Employer Focus: Parkwood House

Parkwood House is a welcoming and award-winning residential home, which is certified by the Eden Alternative UK & Ireland thanks to its commitment to combatting the problems of loneliness, helplessness and boredom. Parkwood House has just won three Plymouth City Council Excellence in Care Awards including Innovation in Technology and Commitment to Workforce Development, and Lorna Smith also won Manager of the Year.

We caught up with Lorna, the Manager at Parkwood House, to find out more about the awards and how apprenticeships work for the home.

“We have won awards for a number of consecutive years. This is due to the ethos of the home and the fact that staff are taught to empower each other to help deliver excellent and compassionate care. We are certified by the Eden Alternative for our commitment to reducing loneliness, boredom and helplessness – common problems faced by the elderly and vulnerable individuals. For example, we offer a wide variety of activities, such as driving days, to combat boredom. We also invite local schools and community groups into the home to reduce loneliness, and ensure our residents are involved in the daily running of the home to lessen feelings of helplessness. The staff also do not wear a uniform, which helps to encourage inclusiveness between the team and our residents.

“Our apprentices are trained to further promote this supportive and stimulating ethos. All apprentices take part in Dementia Care Matters training at Parkwood House, which teaches them how to look after those with dementia and their basic needs, but in a way that makes the care social and meaningful – for example, by playing music when carrying out personal care duties. It is these small touches that can make a huge difference to the lives of our residents.

“We have employed apprentices for a number of years now through Skills Group, and some of them have stayed with us for years after their apprenticeship finished. For example, one of our senior carers started out as an apprentice six years ago and has progressed through the home, taking on more responsibility. Our apprentices get involved in every task in the home and so gain a huge range of experience. The qualifications then help to consolidate the experience and allow them to move forward in their career.

“My advice to other care homes thinking of hiring apprentices would be to ensure you give them an in-depth induction. When an apprentice starts with us, we give them a three month induction to help ensure they feel confident in their tasks and also to make sure that care is the right career for them. It’s also important to support them throughout the apprenticeship process: lots of our apprentices are school leavers and so it is a huge step moving into the world of work.

“We will continue to hire apprentices in the future through Skills Group”.

I always struggled in school as I wasn’t very academic, so knew learning on the job would be a better option for me. I would find it difficult to get up for 9am but now I wake up and look forward to my day. I wanted to try a hair apprenticeship as I’ve always been interested in hairdressing, and by the end of the first week, I already loved it!

Jaimee Benson, Level 2 Hairdressing

I have developed a range of new skills through work including the technical, industry skills required for the job, to personal development such as ensuring I am always on time. The biggest change since leaving school is adjusting to the independence you gain from earning a salary. My advice to anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship would be find what you like doing, and go for it!

Will Birch, Level 2 Bricklaying

Since starting the apprenticeship, I’ve become far more confident. In a classroom, you only interact with your classmates, but through working you develop your people skills as you interact with customers on a daily basis. At school, you are closely monitored and parented, however I am now more independent and feel grown up

Sam Collard, Level 2 Light Vehicle and Maintenance Repair

The most important thing I’ve learnt since leaving school is that there are other routes to success than just academia. I failed my GCSEs, as I never suited the school environment. Now though, I’m really enjoying my apprenticeship as I’ve discovered I learn more through hands-on practice.

Ben Freeman, Level 2 Carpentry

I would just like to thank you and your team for all the amazing work they do, you have provided me with the most invaluable experience which has helped to pave the way of my future. The work you do for young people is incredible!

Luke Kowalski, Teaching Assistant and former apprentice at Sir Robert Gefferys School