Paula's diploma

Posted on
21 May 2021

My qualification:

'I've just finished my Level Five Diploma in Health and Social Care Leadership and Management which was a great refresher and a good way to demonstrate my knowledge in my role as a support co ordinator in Supported Living', Paula tells us.

It will be helpful if she decides to move up to a Registered or Deputy Manager role in the future, but she would need some experience too, which, with this qualification behind her, she could get if the opportunity comes along.

Since Paula started working in Bury as a support worker in 1993 she's taken lots of opportunities to progress in her roles, including a BTEC in community equipment and becoming a moving and handling trainer and assessor. In fact, she says 'moving and handling is my passion and it's a big part of what I love about my job, even though it's not actually in my job description!'


What is a Level 5 Diploma in Health and Social Care Leadership and Management?

'It’s replaced what was the NVQ L4 Registered Manager’s award. It was funded via the apprenticeship scheme and done with Bury college. Persona paid for the reference books we needed and Sue (our Workforce Development Officer) was really supportive, sorting things out for us and being supportive; she was always checking in and asking if we needed anything and we're we ok, because having three different assessors was quite difficult. Ali (my manager) and everyone in Supported Living has been really supportive.

It’s a two-year course; the earliest you can complete it is in a year and a day. I got a small extension because of the pandemic; there were about five months when I couldn’t really do anything on it because it was run through Bury College and everything went virtual; that was frustrating and I probably would have finished it earlier if not for that but I lost my flow and was demotivated. It’s a big commitment and it’s taken up a lot of time; there was no time to think about it in work so I did most of it in my own time. It was hard work and it’s a lot of effort. You are meant to get ‘off the job’ time to study but it wasn’t possible so we had to work around that. I did claim some of my time back for studying, which you can do within certain limits if you match it. You could probably get away with doing less than I did, but I don’t see the point in that; the more you put in, the more you get out of it.

You have to do a certain amount of credits in different subject areas and a research project at the end. I possibly put in more work than I needed to, to pass as you don’t get a distinction, you either pass or you don’t. It’s nice if you get positive feedback about your work! You’ve really got to apply yourself if you’re working full time and particularly through the pandemic, it was the last thing I wanted to think about. My advice to anyone else doing this diploma would be not to leave your project till last – they do warn you about this but it’s really tempting to get stuck in, working your way through the units and the project feels like such a big thing – the thought of researching, gathering evidence, doing a questionnaire was quite daunting. I had to change the title of it too, which was quite stressful and I couldn’t imagine getting to the end of it but – I did! And it felt great! One downside was that I ended up having three assessors and I never even met the third one even virtually, even though she supported me through my project which made it hard and weird because I’d got to know my second assessor quite well. Once I got on a roll it was ok though, and I kind of – sort of – enjoyed it!

It was good to be doing the course at the same time as other people as we were comparing notes on things like how long we were spending on things. I did learn to get wise and see where I could make things more efficient, and not repeat myself too. Joining Bury College and getting a student discount card was great too – I miss my 10% off in Boots!'


My career progression:

'I’ve been at Persona from the beginning, but worked at the council before that; I started working in Bury in 1993 as a support worker. At the time there were no lead support workers. I was recruited through Woodbury hostel in Tottington, which managed the houses in the community where I was based, doing sleep-ins. When I’d been doing that role for eight or nine years, I applied for a part-time, senior support worker role in the learning disability support team (now Supported Living). It was a temporary role for nine months and when I got the job I did half the week as a support worker and half as a senior, which was very difficult!

My half-time senior role got made permanent, so I did both roles for a further six months. Then two full-time and one half-time senior support worker jobs were advertised, so I applied and got the other half! I became a permanent, full-time senior support worker in January 2001. Now I’ve been in this senior role (now called a co Ordinator) for twenty years and I moved over to Persona in October 2015. And now I’ve done my diploma! I could have done it fifteen years ago, but I’d just finished my BTec so I let someone else take my place, thinking I could go on the next one, but they stopped offering it! So I’ve waited all this time for the opportunity.'


Click here to read other staff members' experiences of gaining a qualification while they worked.

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