Who we are and what we get up to. Below you will find some of our staff and their lives working with us at Cambian. We hold on to our staff and nurture them from wherever they join the company right through to their highest achievements.
Claire's story - Mental Health
Assistant Team Manager
"I started off as a Support Worker when I joined Cambian four years ago, and am now an Assistant Team Manager (ATM), a role I’ve been in for a year now. I work closely with the students but I also manage a team of six. I studied psychology and was always interested in the psychology of mental health and autism – what makes someone tick. The reason I chose the role originally was to get a small insight into how someone with autism develops
I had no experience at all when I first came to the job. I think Cambian looks for people who are willing to learn, who want to work with people who have special needs and who like to care for other people. I had friends who worked at Cambian so I had the opportunity to come here and see what it was like. Everyone here is so engaged with what they do and feels rewarded. You have to be engaged – there’s no two ways about it. The students develop so much more if you’re fully in with them and from the outside you don't really see that aspect of it. Personality-wise you need to have a level of patience, be a good communicator and be able to listen to people.
You help people in all aspects of their lives and it’s not always rosy. But the thing is that we’re teaching students at the same time as helping them; so, for example, you might be helping someone with brushing their teeth but they're learning how to do it themselves at the same time with our support – that’s a big step towards independence. It can take a lot of time; everyone has their own pace and their own reasons for their behaviour, but we see the improvements week to week. It's in the little steps that we see major achievements. The thing I find most rewarding is when students progress.
Glen's Story - Education
"I've been at Cambian for just over two months – I was a chef before, and wanted to do something that could make a difference, something valuable. I looked around in my local area and this role really stood out. It has definitely exceeded my expectations
I work closely with students and give them help in living skills. I work to a care plan that is individually developed for each student because everyone has different needs. I work either one-to-one or occasionally with two students at a time – whatever is appropriate to the students’ needs.
I work with students that have autism; the majority have other learning disabilities as well such as ADHD or epilepsy. We have a huge range of students at Cambian; from more able students that can basically operate on their own to students that need a lot of living help.
Recently we taught one of our kids how to use a knife and fork by himself and that was a huge personal best for him. It can be as simple as that; someone who has no idea what it’s like to be a Support Worker would have no idea how it feels to have helped someone achieve that and it’s rewarding for both of us. Over time you start to notice how significant some things are to some people – it gives you a sense of perspective.
I feel very much a team member and well-supported in my role. It’s like a close-knit family; we have a rota and you’re assigned to a team, you stay with that team and work different shift patterns together, so we can share our experiences about the students we work with. You don’t need specific skills – being a good person, compassionate and understanding that everybody’s unique will help you though.
I see a very clear progression in my career here – I love what I’m doing now but I would like more responsibility in the future and I know that Cambian can offer that. I’ve loved every minute of it so far – and there aren’t many jobs you can say that about."
Doug's Story - Learning Disabilities
"I specialise in learning disabilities and I’ve been with Cambian for seven months. Before Cambian I studied nursing for three years and then worked as a Staff Nurse in a medium-security forensic service for young males with learning disabilities. I was already working as a Support Worker in the field of autism and was finding my job rewarding; but also felt I could make more of a difference. I felt that stepping into nursing would help me make a positive impact on people’s lives
I was already qualified when I started but my training is ongoing. I’ve already got several things that I’d like to do and my line manager is helping me to prioritise those because you can’t do everything at once! I am encouraged to put forward any training requests that I do have and I would never be told “don’t go for that”; they are always considered.
I don’t spend a great deal of time with the students like the Support Workers do but, having said that, the students that I do work with I see on a regular basis. I build up therapeutic relationships with those students and their parents; I think at times it’s as, if not more, important that I have a strong professional relationship with the parents because they’re going through as much as their kids sometimes, and also because they’re not here – they’ve left their child here and all of a sudden they’ve got all these issues to try and manage.
One of the great things is that you are busy from day one and feel you are effective from the start. You have to hit the ground running but you are always supported. I think it’s important to stress that the role of a School Nurse at Cambian is totally unique. It’s a role of many contrasts and that’s probably what keeps me here. You never know what’s going to happen, who’s going to do what – and that’s the students or the staff! I like challenges, and I find this job rewarding. Make no mistake, it can be frustrating at times but it can also be incredibly exhilarating."
Ruth's Story- Mental Health
I’ve been with Cambian just over a year but I’d been working in residential nursing services before. I’d always known that I wanted a career in care from school so I did a college course and the learning disability and mental health area interested me. I started at a different residential learning disability unit and then transferred to Cambian which is where I am now – at a mental health rehabilitation unit for males.
It’s for patients that have been detained but we also take informal patients as well. It can be long term care, the average stay is about 18 months but it depends on the patient themselves and their individual progress as to how they progress through rehabilitation. We have people here who are detained under the Mental Health Act, people with schizophrenia or other mental health conditions so we work with them to rehabilitate so that they can move on – live in the community either by themselves or in supported living.
&People come in with a diagnosis and a need for full time support but the ultimate goal is to help them to leave – or achieve as much as they can – not everyone can be rehabilitated sufficiently to be able to live independently but their best achievable goal may be to aim for supported living. With the multi-disciplinary team including clinicians and occupational therapists, I assess the needs when someone is admitted. We are given an idea of their history to start with and we assess them over a period of time and put a plan of care in place to help them. We involve the patient – there’s no point in us doing a care plan when the patient is not bothered about it – we need their cooperation to make it work. The care plan develops over time. We start with an admission care plan but over an 8 week period we assess them and then decide, with them, what the areas of need are for them. We use assessment tools for this and each member of the multidisciplinary team has sections within the care plan. The care plan is focused very much on the individual and their ability, and them understanding what is achievable.
I was a qualified staff nurse before I came to Cambian but I did a full two week induction training which included the training that I would need for the job at Cambian. We have online training as and when needed and I have done training in ECG. Quite a few training packages are offered and there’s also opportunity for me to identify areas for training and Cambian is very fair in what they are able to offer everybody. Everyone does the online training. I didn’t do any specific training covering a particular mental condition but if I felt I wanted anything like that there would be the availability to put myself forward, but because of the way the multi-disciplinary team works there is always sharing of experience and the opportunity to learn on the job. If I was stuck on something or In needed information there’s always someone who can help.
You have to expect the unexpected – every day is a different day – no day is the same. When you are working with people who have got mental health problems then I think it’s a case of being aware that there are going to be situations that you’re going to have to deal with and that there are ways of dealing with them. I think you need to have the confidence and have the ability to talk to people – there’s no point coming into a job like this if you can’t communicate with people professionally and the patients themselves because that’s the reason you’re here. You need to get to know the patients as individuals because two people might have similar behaviour but you would deal with them in different ways. You have to be open minded and understand that everyone you are working with is a person – someone’s brother, sister, daughter, son. If you build up a relationship with your patients you can anticipate behaviour, notice triggers, and also any declines as well – that’s very important. For example someone staying in their room all day when they don’t usually do that – that might mean there’s something wrong, but with another patient that might not be the case – they might be fine. You need a lot of patience and self-motivation because a lot of the job is about motivating other people and helping them when they have crisis times in their lives.
I have a good support network so I can deal with times I feel a bit despondent – perhaps when someone’s had a setback or hasn’t made the progress we were hoping for. The nursing team works together so you can discuss things with nursing colleagues and you have regular what we call “supervisions” – meetings with seniors – my head of care or my manager, I have people I can talk to if something’s bothering me. It’s a team that recognises that this is part of the job. And there can be times when it’s very quiet - when you’re talking about mental health a lot of people focus on crisis and challenging behaviour but that’s not actually a major part of the job.
For me personally the reward is knowing that you’re helping a difference in someone’s life, Cambian is about the long term – it’s not about “get them well and get them out”, there’s not that pressure on the turnover. It’s good that you have time to help someone get to a point in their lives and also that they are able to maintain that – not go backwards and sometimes that can take a long time. It’s rewarding when you feel that’s happening, and that someone goes on. The little things like somebody learning to get up in the morning by themselves and have a shower – or even someone who hasn’t ever spoken to you before opening up and being able to sit and have a chat with you. The smaller things that mean a great deal – the sort of things that a job specification can describe.
I think people would benefit from coming to have a look round and see what we do here and see those little achievements – the little steps. I feel I have a career path to follow here, definitely and because it’s such an expanding company there are many options you could take – like for me – I transferred from another service. In a lot of companies you can’t do that because they don’t cover enough conditions or disciplines. Cambian has residential care, term time care; secure care and deals with mental illness and learning disabilities.