Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson

Job title: Lead Carer

Working at the Almshouses: Since 2010

1.    What does your job entail?

I lead a team of care staff in both the very sheltered flats and the residential home.  I organise the staff and the personal care provided to the people who live here which includes making sure arrangements are in place for cleaning and maintenance too. I’m responsible for health and safety, compiling and updating care plans, risk assessments and cooperating with outside agencies, for example GP’s and district nurses.

I’m a fully qualified fitness instructor and hold weekly chair-based exercise classes at the Almshouses which are proving very popular.

2.    What were you doing before you came to the Almshouses

I’ve done a variety of jobs –I was a Level Two swimming teacher and coach for the Learn-to-Swim programme for many years. I’m also a trained lifeguard trainer/assessor.  In addition I’ve had a stint as a school caretaker, an invaluable experience which taught me all I know about building maintenance, budgets and time management.

3.    What was your first day like? 

I shadowed a very experienced carer who showed me what to do. She was supportive and instructed me in the best possible way to provide care. My first job was part time but within a few weeks it became full time and since then I have been lucky enough to be promoted a couple of times.

4.    What do you most enjoy about your work at the Almshouses?

I love the organisation side of my job – I enjoy knowing that I’ve created a shift that’s worked well and every problem arising during the course of that shift has been overcome.

5.    What impact do you think your work is having?

My work enables residents to receive their care at a time that suits them and promotes their independence.  In addition, the high standard of care and support helps take away some of their anxieties about daily living.

6.    What sort of training have you had?

All the mandatory care training – for example, training in dementia, medication, health and safety, moving and handling, safeguarding vulnerable adults, fire safety and first aid.

7.    What changes have you seen during your time at the Almshouses?

It’s a much more people-centred approach now than when I started.  In the past routines used to be designed to match staff rotas – for example there were set ‘getting up’ and ‘going to bed’ times.  Now the Almshouses are focussed around what individuals want – the people who live here choose what time they want to get up and go to bed and many other things too!

The Chair Based Exercise Class is also a significant change in the activities on offer here – and it’s very popular.  People want to keep fit and this is a safe way of doing it.

8.    What about the future?  Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

I’d like to be an Occupational Therapist but that will depend on whether I can take time out of work to train.  If I can’t, I would like to build up my exercise classes and offer them as an outreach service to residential homes and very sheltered housing schemes.

9.    What is the nicest thing anyone has said to you about your work at the Almshouses?

“I can count on you.  If you say you’ll do something, you do it”

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