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Achieve together: career progression in the care sector
Susan Lee, Chief People Officer at Achieve together which is specialist provider of support for people with learning disabilities and autism, discusses career progression in the care sector and explains how, with the right training and support, it’s possible to climb the ranks.
One of the benefits of starting your career with a large organisation is the opportunity to grow within it, in an environment where you can build your skills base with people who know and are invested in you. You have the advantage of knowing all sides of the organisation, which also hugely benefits junior team members because they can learn from someone who understands what their role is. 
At Achieve together, we champion nurturing homegrown talent, because we’ve seen first-hand the advantages of doing so, both for the people we support and for our team members and wider community. A prime example of this is one of our regional managers, Holly Scales. Holly came to us as a support worker from a background of working with those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Since joining, she quickly moved up to a senior support worker, and then climbed the management ranks from assistant, to deputy, to service manager.  
In her current role, Holly oversees ten services, and supports managers to ensure that services are running at a high quality. She also conducts whole business reviews and facilitates effective communications to both internal and external stakeholders, and she’s on hand to support with any crises or safeguarding issues, as well as to sign off important actions. 
We spotted the potential in Holly straight away and were keen to ensure she reached it. As she’s progressed, we’ve ensured that she is consistently given opportunities to develop, but always with the right level of support. For example, she had proven herself as a service manager but wasn’t quite ready to become a regional manager yet. Therefore, we created an in-between role as senior service manager, allowing Holly to grow in confidence and skills, and is now in the role of Regional Manager.
Retaining the best people is a balance between providing great development opportunities and fostering a positive working environment that makes our team members want to stay. We’ve put a variety of schemes in place to guarantee that voices are being heard and we’re constantly adapting and changing to meet their needs. 
We have recently started the team members Ambassadors’ Scheme, for example, which empowers colleagues to let senior management know what’s important to them and any suggestions they might have. Alongside this we have regular awards and ‘employee of the month’ initiatives which help people to feel valued for their fantastic work.
These complement other initiatives already in place to support those we work with, including an employee assistance programme, which allows them to confidentially discuss anything, whether or not it’s related to work. There is also a network of Mental Health Champions throughout the organisation.  
Above all however, we focus on promoting our ethos as an organisation, to put the people we support at the heart of everything we do and inspire a generation to ensure they live happy, healthy and meaningful lives. This feeds into all aspects of our work and helps to create an environment where people want to stay. There’s a big emphasis on having fun; we want the people we support to enjoy their lives, and we want team members to enjoy their day-to-day as well. 
Achieve together sees its role as a chance to improve the lives of those we support, and to fulfil their needs in an engaging and dignified way. Although we recognise the challenges facing the sector, we also want to celebrate the amazing work being done every day and encourage more people enter the sector. A career in social care can be incredibly rewarding and allows you to excel in ways you never expected.

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