A masters graduate has joined the team at one of the UK’s leading retirement villages as part of a prestigious national fast-track scheme to train future leaders for the social care sector.
Greg Whalen, 22, who graduated with an MSc Management master’s degree from Durham University this summer, is on a placement at the award-winning Middleton Hall Retirement Village at Middleton St George, near Darlington, as part of the Skills for Care graduate programme.
An independent charity, Skills for Care works as a delivery partner for the Department of Health and Social Care. Its graduate programme aims to widen the pool of recruits and develop new sources of talent for the social care sector.
Greg, from Durham, who also has a BA (Hons) in Sociology from Newcastle University, had to undergo a rigorous selection process to be accepted onto the graduate programme and is one of only 20 graduates recruited nationally.
He then opted to join Middleton Hall, which has a rare ‘Outstanding’ rating by the Care and Quality Commission (CQC) and has been selected by Skills for Care as a host employer that could offer suitable support, training, learning and development for a graduate placement.
Explaining the reasons for his choice, Greg said: “I like the fact that Middleton Hall is small and bespoke. I was attracted by the fact that it is an organisation with a strong management culture and values based on a commitment to providing the best possible services for residents.”
At Middleton Hall his focus is on analysing how residents can be offered the best possible value services in order to determine how an individualised service can be offered that enables everyone to live well.
To achieve this he will be fully immersed in the operations at Middleton Hall, working on the floor and shadowing and spending time interviewing residents, families and members of staff to understand how each of its services operates.
Greg added: “I am looking for things that make a difference for residents in their daily lives. The results of Middleton Hall’s residents’ survey indicate that 98 % of residents and family members surveyed view Middleton Hall as either ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ and my research is motivated by a desire to achieve further excellence by offering the best possible value services.”
Since he joined Middleton Hall in October, Greg has been actively involved across Middleton Hall engaging with residents at the many activities on offer for residents including recent events to mark the centenary of the Armistice, bonfire night fireworks and the annual Christmas Fair.
Using skills he gained working at luxury chocolate retailer Hotel Chocolat when he was at university, he has also hosted two popular chocolate tasting sessions for residents offering an exploration of the ‘Bean to Bar’ process followed by sampling Hotel Chocolat chocolates and wine pairing.
Audra Hunt, Training and Living Well Manager for Middleton Hall and who is mentoring Greg throughout his placement commented: “Middleton Hall is delighted to be part of the Skills for Care programme and part of Greg’s ongoing professional development. It provides a great platform for Greg to gain real insight and practical knowledge of adult social care together with defining and sharing an ‘added value’ best practice.”