Belinda Jones now works as Lead Senior Support Worker at Belong Crewe, having joined Belong seven years ago, at Belong Macclesfield. Known as an approachable, sincere and passionate figure in the villages, Belinda also acts as a Dementia Champion, sharing her knowledge with other staff members and working tirelessly to create a calming and supportive environment.
"I've worked in care for the past 17 years, since I started in a domestic role in a CLS care home back when I was at college. Since then I've done just about every related job, apart from being a chef, which I'd be terrible at. I love working in Belong Crewe. You come in and you never know what you'll be doing on any given day. It sounds corny, but if someone were going to offer me a dream job, this is it.
"Every day is different, but sometimes on my way to work I'll call in to assess new customers, either in hospital or in their own homes. Then once I arrive at the village I'll look at the rotas to make sure there are enough staff to cover each household, arranging replacements where necessary. As Lead Senior Support Worker, I take the lead in the household that I work in, which is usually Britannia. I spend a lot of time there, helping staff to develop their skills and knowledge. I mentor new Leads on other households too. It's a lovely feeling to know that I can help people to develop the confidence to offer great care and support, whether or not I'm there to help them myself.
"The time on the households can be quite intense. You're helping people physically, emotionally and socially. It can be jiggering, but in a good way. When you leave at the end of the day and you can hear the laughter that you left behind, that's music to my ears. It feels sometimes like people living with dementia can be overlooked in society and I want to educate the world, to help families and carers understand that people can live well with dementia.
"As a Dementia Champion, the best way to describe the role is by saying that I have to become a dementia detective. When a person with dementia's behavior begins to change, if they're becoming distressed or disoriented, I'll spend quality time with them to determine what triggered the change.
"There was a lady recently who I spent a lot of time with and discovered that she prefers to be kept busy and left alone as little as possible. By making changes to her lifestyle, we saw such a positive effect. Her overall wellbeing, her eating, her relationships, everything improved as she became more relaxed. Identifying the appropriate response to changes in a person's behavior can drastically improve that person's quality of life.
"There are also so many other tasks that I get involved with on the different households. Advising on the purchase of equipment, creating life plans for customers, medication observations, training staff to instruct on moving and handling, supporting the relatives of customers... There's never any shortage of things to do!"
"I love the teams that I work with on the different households. By working together to help the individuals living on the households, we make a real difference to their lives. If I can help Belong staff to have a positive impact, then that makes me very happy, and it improves the wellbeing of staff just as much as it does customers. Being person-centred applies to staff the same as it does to residents.
"I also run two-day dementia training courses for other staff once a fortnight. We cover a lot of ground, but the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The ladies that deal with the training evaluation forms for me tell me that people find the training inspirational, which is heartwarming and makes it all worthwhile.
"At the end of the day, I love the unknown element of our work here, the unpredictable. I can be a bit of a character and our uniqueness is embraced at Belong. This enables me to empower staff to be themselves, giving them the confidence to do the same to residents. It's fantastic.
"At home I catch up with family and friends, seeing my son and niece and nephew. My family are all very supportive. Even at the beginning of my career, my dad used to help look after my son, when I was staying late to offer extra care and support to new residents. Dad has been fantastic, he helped me get where I am today."