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Distinction for Nicola - Lead Adult Care Worker Level 3 Apprenticeship

Nicola has just completed her level 3 Apprenticeship as a Lead Adult Care Worker – securing a distinction! We asked her about her current role as a mental health support worker and discussed how her confidence has grown both professionally and personally, resulting in taking on more responsibility – plus the support she’s received from her tutor, employer and family!

““From start to finish, I cannot fault my apprenticeship experience with Ixion. Gaining a distinction was the best feeling, hard work truly does pay off. The support I received throughout was really great and my assessor, Suzanne, was a fountain of knowledge and so supportive. She was fantastic at guiding me through it all, even when Covid-19 meant that we could only meet online. I’m so happy with the whole experience and would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Nicola's Story

Tell us about your current role

My current role is a mental health support worker. I‘m working in a residential home for people with severe mental illness who can’t manage living on their own in the community, mainly schizophrenia, personality disorders and learning disabilities. I’ve been in the role just under four years and I’ve got to know the client base well so my approach is very much tailored to what they respond to. When you’ve helped them overcome hurdles and they thank you of their own free will it’s really rewarding to see them moving forward.

What were you doing before?

I had been a stay at home mum for eight years – I was lucky enough to be in a position where I didn’t need to work. During this time I volunteered for a family support company called Home-Start to both fill my time and give something back to my community – and found I really liked helping people, building a rapport and I got a great deal of satisfaction identifying the ways I could help people deal with their situation. So at 32 I studied my level 2 in Health and Social Care and it was couple of months later when I found the position I’m in now.

Why did you decide to an an apprenticeship?

I interviewed for my current position and was successful, and I accepted it on the condition they would put me through a level 3 qualification so I could further my skills and career.

What did you find the most interesting and the most challenging?

I found the autism unit really, really interesting. Although I had a basic understanding of it, I found I could really build on it and that the techniques and information could be adapted across the board in so many different areas and situations.

The most difficult one was reviewing yourself and your own performance. I found it really challenging because when I’m on shift I’m constantly assessing situations as an automatic reaction to see what I can do and it’s not something I’ve thought too much about in depth. I had some really great support to get through this from my tutor, Suzanne Marfleet – she really was fantastic; so lovely and so supportive she knows so much and is always willing to share the information that she has.

What impact has it had on you profesionally?

It’s given me a great deal more confidence, I get quite involved with helping the manager now with risk assessments, reviewing care plans; I’m now a key worker with three key clients and I get involved with training new staff and really enjoy passing on the information, what we do, why we do it, the legislation, the way it can impact on the client, as well as explaining their conditions and how they present themselves.

What impact has it had on you personally?

I’ve never been very good at speaking up for my myself, but now I’ve found I’m a lot more comfortable with saying how I feel and challenging things I don’t think are right.

How were you supported during your apprenticeship?

My employer created time slots where we could do our coursework and gain information from more experienced colleagues. My managers would often check in and ask how’s it going, if there’s anything they could do to help.

Suzanne I can’t fault her – she has been fantastic. Anytime I’ve needed explanations, more guidance, or gone off track – she’s always pulled me back in the right direction and made things so relatable and so understandable it all just made perfect sense. I am deaf in one ear but it didn’t have an impact, when face to face Suzanne always ensured I could see her face clearly and see her lips moving.

I also had support from my family, my mum was happy to have my children every now and again so I could complete some assignments!

How did Covid-19 impact on your learning?

It was quite intense reviewing government guidelines, introducing new ways of working and it has added to the daily duties for example temperature taking, stock checking of PPI, helping our clients understand about how and why they need to keep safe.

It didn’t make much of an impact in terms of my learning, Suzanne helped me figure out to how to do the online meetings so we continued to keep in touch and she was always at the end of the phone.

Would you recommend the apprenticeship?

I absolutely would. Being a parent and learning on the job was really beneficial. Applying new knowledge and putting this into practice almost immediately really helped deepen the understanding. When I did my level 2 which was theory only, it took my new job to learn how to apply skills, slotting what I’d learnt into the right place for further understanding. With an apprenticeship it’s instant so you really pick up new skills quickly.

What are five words or phrases that sum up your learner journey?

Positive, informative, interesting, supported, progressing

What are five words or phrases that sum up your tutor Suzanne?

Friendly, knowledgeable, approachable, helpful and kind.

If your learner journey was an animal, what would it be?

It would have to be an owl because all this new knowledge makes one wiser!

An owl looking at the camera
If your learner journey was a song, what song would it be?

Pharrell Williams Happy because I enjoyed the course, felt very well supported by Suzanne and I’m very happy with the outcome.

Disclaimer: This video is from an external source and subtitles are not available.

““I am so proud of Nicola’s achievement.  I have had the pleasure of watching her grow in confidence and to apply her skills and knowledge in her own workplace.  She has improved areas in her own workplace by completing this apprenticeship and has taken on extra responsibilities.”

Suzanne Marfleet, Teaching Assessor

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