Case study

Graduate management trainee — Sophie Gordon

Find out about Sophie's accelerated professional development on a social care management graduate training scheme…

How did you get your current job?

After graduation all I knew was that I wanted to embark on a career which would help to make a difference to others.

During my post-university travels I realised that I missed working with adults with learning disabilities, an area I had volunteered in during my studies.

I found the National Skills Academy Graduate Scheme whilst searching online. The scheme offered a fantastic entry in to the sector with a one year work placement, whilst studying for a management qualification.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

Although my degree subject did not help me secure my job at Clearwater Care, having a degree definitely did.

Not only is it a requirement of the graduate scheme, but the sector is also looking for students who have developed innovative, critical-thinking skills to join the social care industry.

What are your main work activities?

This is quite difficult to answer as I am on a work placement, which is geared to my professional development, so I do not have a fixed job role, but instead undertake a variety of roles and projects.

However, as an example, each week I spend a three-day shift leading in a service for adults with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour.

A usual day shift involves coming in for 7am, checking the diary, service emails and communication book to see if there are any tasks or appointments for the day.

I will then look at each service user's activity plan to see what they have planned and the household cleaning rota. Using this information I write up the shift plan for all the support staff I am managing so they know who they are supporting and what needs to be done.

I will then carry out health and safety checks to ensure the house is clean and safe and then it is time to ensure the service users receive their medication.

During the last hour of my shift I check that all of the administration has been completed, including filling out the service users' daily records, and then handover to the next shift leader.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

As I am new to the care sector my role is constantly changing to enable my professional and personal development.

Initially I worked across three different supported living services to help me gain experience of supporting adults with learning disabilities with varying levels of need.

I then trained in the various registered manager administrative duties, including HR audits and quality reports.

Next I was set various projects, including updating the website and compiling the quarterly newsletter to develop my marketing skills.

Currently, alongside my weekly administrative duties, I am shift leading to help develop my managerial skills.

My career ambition is to become the registered manager of an adult learning disabilities service within the next two years.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Working with the service users; all the individuals I support are fantastic people, and they truly make the job worthwhile.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Before I started this scheme I thought my biggest challenge would be the service users, however it is most definitely managing the staff.

I am incredibly lucky to have great support from my manager and the National Skills Academy to help me develop the tools to become an effective manager.

The scheme has provided me with the opportunity to study for an Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) qualification alongside my placement, which is helping me to learn the theory and techniques behind good leadership, while putting them into practice.

What are the best things about working in this sector?

Supporting an adult with learning disabilities to develop as a person, grow in confidence and to learn new skills is an absolute privilege and is incredibly rewarding.

Any advice for a new graduate looking to work in adult social care?

Do it. Working in social care can be incredibly demanding and challenging at times, but knowing that you support adults to become more independent and grow as people gives you incredible job satisfaction.

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