Avante Care & Support has built a strong long-lasting reputation for providing high quality care and support within its care homes and home care & support services.
This successful reputation is down to the exceptional staff who work at Avante Care & Support. Our staff go the extra mile to build friendships with our residents and service users and brighten their day wherever possible. As a growing organisation we are always on the look-out for caring and committed people who could make a difference to the lives of the people we care for and support.
Below are a couple of staff from our home care team that have spoken about working for us and shared their stories, some have been with us for over 20 years.
Home Carer, Home Care & Support
Bonnie joined Avante Care & Support (which was then known as Care at Home, KCHT) on 4th March 1995 as a home carer. Prior to this she worked at the paper mill in Sittingbourne whilst building up her own business as a green grocer in Sittingbourne. Bonnie built up a successful business which she then sold on and worked for a local fruit and veg supplier, until one day she decided she had seen enough of fruit and vegetables and needed a career change.
The Care at Home service was based at and provided through residential care home Court Regis in Sittingbourne which is still one of Avante Care & Support’s specialist dementia care homes today. The Care at Home service was an extra service provided by Court Regis for those not needing to move into residential care but requiring personal care or assistance with day to day tasks.
“The main areas I covered were Lynstead, Teynham, Rodmersham and Sheerness, they were quite big areas with not a lot of carers to start with. I learnt so much from the Twilight Nurses who we worked with and I guess at the time we all just rolled our sleeves up and got on with the work”, says Bonnie.
Bonnie recalls how on some days the carers between them used to be able to provide personal care and cook a roast dinner for some of their clients, all in the allocated time slots throughout the day! “Things are very different now but there was one client in particular when I first started working within the care sector, who loved a roast dinner, so I used to visit her in the morning get her up out of bed, care for her, prepare breakfast and then peel some veg. I would then go off and visit another client, but whoever was popping back at lunchtime would then pop on the meat and spuds. The afternoon care visit would check the spuds turn on the veg and turn the meat, and then for the dinner visit the roast would be served, all this whilst caring for the client too! The lady used to be ever so happy and it was a real sense of achievement and team work.”
“I’ve laughed with people and I’ve cried with them, it’s like every job – it has its highs and lows, but I have certainly had more highs than I have lows and have some fantastic memories of some wonderful people I have cared for” said Bonnie.
There was one dear man who required a ceiling hoist but he had made it quite clear he wasn’t going to use it as he didn’t ‘trust the machinery’. So I thought how am I going to get round this? So I thought, I’ll get in it, I’ll show him that it’s fine to use! So in she got, with the help of a colleague, but much to Bonnie’s frustration the hoist decided to stop halfway through its manoeuvre leaving poor Bonnie dangling in mid-air! ‘See I told you said the dear man!’ Well that was it, Bonnie and her colleague had to work out how to get out of the hoist whilst trying to convince the chap that it was a great piece of working machinery. Bonnie’s not sure how she got out of the hoist that day but one things for sure they all laughed about it for many years after.
Care practice has clearly changed over the last 20 years but laughter and a caring manner are still key attributes to providing good care.
Bonnie has recently been recognised and awarded by the organisation for her 20 years of service at Avante Care & Support and continues to work for the home care service. “I love my job and being able to assist our clients to stay living in their own homes. Most of my clients treat me as extended family, some even refer to me as another daughter. It’s tough at times there’s no denying that, but I wouldn’t change what I do”.
Anne Philips and Anne Croucher
Home Carers, Home Care & Support
Anne Philips and Anne Croucher have been part of the home care team for over 20 years and were recently recognised and awarded for their 20 years of dedicated service to home care at Avante Care & Support.
Anne Philips aged 73, joined Avante Care & Support Home Care team back in November 1995 as a community care worker. Previously she was a receptionist for a company that engineered parts for British Aerospace and Formula One racing. Anne had known since a young girl that she wanted to be involved in care in some way and often dreamt of being a nurse as a child. It was when her father sadly died that she realised she wanted to pursue a career in caring and help others.
“I have always loved being a home carer and have a lot of fond memories from my work, you need to have an open mind and at times expect the unexpected. Many years ago when I first started as a home carer one lady used to insist we sit out in her garden in all weathers, spotting various things ranging from people to birds and other wild life, the happiness it used to bring this lady meant that we did it every week!’’ – Anne Phillips
During Anne’s career at Avante Care & Support she has mainly worked out in the community but also spent time working in the office and became a Team Leader. Anne now works as the main lead on the out of hour’s service, covering the phone and ensuring all out of hours home care calls are managed efficiently.
Anne Croucher has worked for Avante Care & Support for over 24 years and delivers home care on the Isle of Sheppey. Anne has been a carer for over 35 years in total as she previously worked as a volunteer providing care before joining the team at Avante Care & Support.
Before working as a carer she was a hairdresser and also worked in a factory but realized these weren’t the types of jobs she wanted to pursue as a career.
“I have never looked at caring as a job I enjoy giving other people a better quality of life and making them feel special.
Times have certainly changed since I first started caring and there is no way we would be able to do what we did back then, but we just seemed to get on with it as we didn’t know any different. The days before dinners were delivered into people’s home I was asked if during my calls to care for my clients, if I could deliver a Christmas dinner to each of them. This would have been fine but I was riding a push bike at the time! Looking back I’m not sure how I did it but I did, I can remember having hot Christmas dinners plated up in bags balancing off of my handle bars! May I say that every meal was delivered, hot and with not a drop of gravy spilt!” – Anne Croucher
Branch Manager, Home Care & Support
My Career at Avante Care & Support started in April 2006 as a carer. It was the most nerve wracking first week for me! Entering strangers homes and assisting them with daily tasks that we take for granted and something that they once were able to do. During this time (and still do) I would always think how hard it must be to lose your independence and have to rely on others, strangers initially, to help with such personal things .
I met some wonderful people that shared with me some amazing stories about their lives, the service users made me laugh daily and cry at times too when they spoke of lost loved ones and reminiscing about the good old days!
A challenge in my work that I had to face and work around was I found the time restrictions of 30 minutes hard to give ‘your all’ to someone, but I soon realised that is the nature of Homecare and experience helps you learn to do an awful lot in a short period of time! Although I loved being a carer, when the opportunity came up to work in the office team I took that step as I found it hard to switch off once I was home, with that I didn’t feel for me I could continue with the carer role but was certain I wanted to stay in the sector.
So in 2007 I started an admin role in the Bexley office. My first task was to send out memos to the carers, it was really difficult as I wanted to ensure it was worded carefully as I had received some from the office previously when I was a carer which had annoyed me! I Enjoyed the role and when there were some changes in the office I applied to the Assistants Manager post and was successful in my application. It was an interesting time as there had been a lot of changes to the structure, so I was managing the team as a very green manager but I had the support of a great Director and my team so it worked and helped me gain the knowledge needed for my next role in 2011 as Kent Homecare Branch Manager.
I have been a Branch Manager for 6 1/2 years now and in the Bexley Branch for the last 5 years, it’s a busy time and can be stressful in places but I have more good days than bad! I have a fantastic team working with me and we strive to deliver quality care in a very difficult sector, due to the underfunding in care in general. Our homecare and support service works as well as it does because most people who work in the Bexley Branch go above and beyond their call of duty and are very committed to their roles as well as each other. I really couldn’t do my job without the support of my fantastic team of carers and office staff and of course my family who often lose me at times to the trials and tribulations the role brings! When we receive a thank you card from a family for all of the support as a team we have provided for a loved one, it makes it all worth while as it just brings that great reminder that with home care support we provide, it allows people to stay in their own homes with their memories and comforts around them and without us this would not be possible.