Hello, my name is Nicholas and I have worked in support of adults with learning disabilities for 32 years. In the early 1990’s when large stay hospital environments were closing and ‘care in the community’ was the current driver for change, at 21 years of age, I gained a position as a support worker in a newly established residential service for sensory impaired adults with learning disabilities, who used behaviours as part of their communication profile.
Whilst there I met and supported a young adult called Trevor, and for the following 3 years, his life and mine became a rich tapestry of shared experiences. He taught me to see beyond his behaviours and disabilities to the amazing and kind heart person he was beneath, and in return I taught him to trust and engage in the new world around him, learning new skills and gaining in both confidence and independence. This culminated with us getting on an internal flight to Scotland, where we enjoyed a week’s holiday spending everyday visiting the source of Trevor’s passion, Caithness Glass Factory with its mesmerising displays of paperweights and all things glass.
Trevor helped me find and develop my person-centred practice and is at the heart of all the skills and experiences I have had since.
From this experience of direct support, I realised there was much to learn and that I needed to take a developmental and professional step forward.
I first went to Derby University where I completed a degree in Drama Therapy and then practiced as a creative/expressive therapist, alongside my role as a day centre officer for Derbyshire County Council (DCC), in a day centre for adults with learning disabilities.
During this time, I also qualified as an adult teacher and delivered licensed training and support to DCC staff teams in, Strategies for Crisis Intervention and Prevention (SCIPrUK).
My first step into the registered manager’s role was in 2003 and for 14 years I worked in this role, learning and developing my skills, across of range of services for Somerset County Council, including, Residential, Supported Living, Domiciliary Care and Day Services.
All the services I managed when inspected by CQC were categorised as ‘Good’ in all areas and I am proud of this consistent achievement.
During this time, I also took on a temporary 2-year contract as a senior operational manager and gained valuable experience managing and supporting registered managers and their services.
In 2017 SCC transformed their inhouse service into an external social enterprise and during this period of change I took the opportunity to develop my career by delivering a regulated service for different client group, the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) Charity and for 3 years I was their registered hotel manager providing holiday breaks to military veterans and their partners. It was a true honour to hear their stories and to provide service to those who had served.
The pandemic was a period of change for many, and the financial pressures of this time generated difficult decisions. RAFA needed to close a range of its’ services, mine included, so I returned to the support of adults with learning disabilities through a temporary senior operational manager’s role for the following 2 years before joining autonomy life in January 2023.
I now find myself as part of an exciting new project, to set up and deliver a new residential service in Castle Cary, Weavers Lodge, that will deliver support to 6 permanent residents and 2 temporary residents under a holiday/respite service or transitional assessment service focus.
This new and very specialised service will be placed on a service pathway to bridge the gap between hospital accommodation environments and community based, social care provisions.
Weavers Lodge is situated close to the town centre and the heart of Castle Cary’s vibrant community, and I look forward to being the registered manager of this service and a part of this rich and historical local community.