We are featured in Care Talk! Young stars shine brightly at Westwood
Can you remember what you were like aged 16? It’s hazy for sure, but I was drinking,
smoking, staying out late and not getting up in the morning very often. Sometimes I’d do school stuff and take a bag of washing to the launderette…if pushed hard enough. That’s just fairly typical, right?
Lisa Jones, Registered Manager of the Stockport branch of Westwood Homecare, knows that it absolutely isn’t typical because her Young Stars were recent Highly Commended award winners in the Social Care Covid Hero Team category at The Great British Care Awards.
We all know there weren’t many silver linings to the pandemic but this certainly has to be one and it came from a lightbulb moment:
“So, the schools closed and the kids were in limbo and it was the Year 11s at the time. My daughter was one of them! So, basically as a business owner I was struggling for staff and I thought well, they’re doing nothing else, just sat at home. They could go out and see how the real world works! My daughter and her boyfriend did online training and put on the uniform, then others joined. They’re just so eager and having come straight from a learning environment, they were really easy to teach.”
Lisa has been in the sector over 25 years and people have always told her not to employ young people till they’re over 21, at least. So, she checked both the law and HR and thought why the hell not! And practically, they were willing to work while many others were on furlough getting paid to sit at home in the sunshine whereas the young people had no way of really earning money.”
I can certainly imagine they’ve brought the enviable energy of youth, but what else is in the mix?
“They’ve brought in much more use of technology and a freshness in their thinking and ideas. They’re excited about going to work and aren’t stuck in their ways like older people. They’re all trained on the complex packages and are always the first ones to say they’ll do it. And our older clients love them - like a breath of fresh air having young faces around.”
And yet, they don’t have the life skills of older people - the experience we all gather about us as we get older. Lisa doesn’t let this comment slide:
“True, but they have the willingness to learn and you can’t always teach the older generation new things. You teach the Young Stars something once and they’re flying
with it. They’re now some of our most experienced staff, actually. They grab any opportunity to better themselves. I’m so proud of them!”
Having proven to be such a success, Westwood have now reached out to all the local colleges and high schools to promote a Health and Social Care career. And at the time of writing, 12 students are taking up placements. And these are 16-18 yr olds. To further combat prejudice, and as the Stockport branch is moving into new premises, they’re going to have an Open Day, making the Young Stars the main attraction.
And why wouldn’t they be! They’re award winners and, critically, they are the future of Social Care:
“For young people, they do a fabulous job, taking challenges in their stride. They don’t get down-hearted and just crack on with a smile. In fact, we don’t even think of their age now. We’re just a family - a tight knit team. And now a couple of the other branches have
started hiring young people.”
By the end of my time with Lisa, I’m feeling appropriately guilty for my stereotyping especially when she says:
“The truth is, if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have got through Covid-19.”
All hail the Young Stars!