Jean Andersen joined Ashdale Care on a student placement 11 years ago – and now is responsible for a number of homes as a Regional Manager.

She embodies Ashdale Care’s ethos of ‘grown from within’ – training colleagues to grow and flourish in their career.

“I joined Ashdale Care for three months on placement while working for my degree in Social Care Practice,’’ explains Jean. “It was quite challenging – I was only 20 – but when CEO Paula Kane offered me a full-time position I grabbed it with both hands.’’

It was the supportive culture that attracted her to Ashdale Care: “The support of teammates helped me to stick with the challenge of the initial few months in residential care.’’

Supporting young people

Jean spent two or three years as a Residential Social Care Worker. So what was it she enjoyed about the job? “The day- to-day care of the young people,’’ she explains. “You’re the one that has the relationship with them. You help them with their education, supporting them with therapies. Although you are guided by the therapeutic team, you are often the one doing the therapeutic intervention.

“We are the people providing the children with their childhood, with Christmas and birthdays. It’s a privilege to be part of these children’s lives.’’

With the support and training that is core to Ashdale Care’s culture, Jean was ready to take on a role of Senior Practitioner. Ashdale Care now offers an accelerated programme for colleagues who show potential to enable them to train for the role of Senior Practitioner. In this role, you act as a link between the staff and management. “You’re offering coaching and support, role modelling and supervision,’’ says Jean. “You are being trained up for management and all the while you are learning how to liaise with professionals, write reports and so on.’’ It’s the best of both worlds she says, enjoying day-to-day experiences with the young people while learning how to be a Home Manager.

Opening a new home

Next, Jean was promoted to Deputy Home Manager and had the task of opening one of Ashdale new homes. “That was an exciting time,’’ she recalls. As a Deputy Home Manager your role is to support the manager, while supporting and upskilling the rest of the team.

Less than a year later, she was back at the home where she had started as a student – but this time she was Home Manager. She looks back incredibly fondly of her time there: “ It was a home away from home. I loved it – the kids, the staff.’’ She makes it clear that Ashdale culture wants managers who are approachable. “You don’t want people to be afraid of you – you want them to aspire to be like you. You need the respect that brings everyone on board with you – you really need to work alongside people.’’ 

Jean only left her ‘home from home’ when she had the opportunity to set up Glyde House – a new home – and from there she took on the role of Regional Manager. Now she oversees several homes, supports home managers and has a role in ensuring that the relevant standards and legislation are adhered to. She is also responsible for overseeing the placement of the young people, and for crisis management in any of her homes.

Specialised training

Jean says the training she has received during her time at Ashdale Care is “fabulous. If I tried to count up the amount of training I had had over the years I really couldn’t. As well as the core training there is fantastic specialised training – on subjects such as child exploitation for instance. Then there’s the training and awareness programme – TAP. Every month there’s a different topic – they include trauma and attachment, mindfulness, grief and loss etc.’’

And she has no plans to go anywhere. “Over the past 10 or 11 years I’ve spent as much time with my Ashdale community as I have in my own home with my family. You have to have that kind of passion – people talk about it being a vocation rather than a job – and they are so right.’’

“It doesn’t feel like that long – it has all been so different. Your colleagues become your best friends. They’ve been there for me through all the big events in my life – getting married, having babies. I’m a very different person from the one that came in when I was 20!’’

Find out more about the career and training opportunities available at Ashdale Care.