More than a job – Toni’s passion for care
Toni has supported Adam since he was 15. She’s watched him grow into a young adult and achieve milestones thought impossible. Hear how she got into care and how her role has become more than just a job.
Toni Winterflood is a Community Healthcare Assistant in our Children’s Complex Care team. This involves providing care and support to children and young people with complex care needs in the community so they can remain in their own homes rather than in hospital.
She’s provided care and support to Adam, a 22-year-old football fan, for the last seven years. Her role is more than a job, it’s the reason why Adam can live a fulfilled life.
Adam has Allan Herndon Dudley syndrome, a rare brain development disorder that only occurs in males. This causes several health complications including cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and limited mobility. This means Adam needs 24-hour care and support from a team of healthcare assistants and nurses, including Toni.
Care as a career
Toni has always enjoyed caring for people. She began her career as a nanny, working with children and families in their home. When a role in care became available, she decided to give it a try. That role was as a healthcare assistant for Adam and his family seven years ago – and she’s worked with them ever since
The role came up and looking at the description, I thought it was something I could do. I was lucky enough to be placed with Adam and his family. We gelled instantly and couldn’t imagine not working with him now!
Toni joins our team
Halfway through Toni supporting Adam, the provider at the time went into administration and the package was taken over by the Children’s Complex Care team at Voyage Care. We wanted to ensure that Adam had consistency in his care and support plan and that the care was delivered by the people that knew him best.
We approached Toni to join our team so she could continue supporting Adam. She gladly accepted and is a core member of Adam’s support team. Toni plays an important part in helping new members of staff to understand Adam and the best way to support his needs.
Trained to support needs
Over the years, Adam’s needs have increased. He now requires more complex care and support compared to when Toni first began supporting him. We provided additional training delivered by our expert clinical nurse educators. They supported Toni and the other members of Adam’s care team with the additional skills required to effectively care for him.
Toni explained, “Before I did this job, I didn’t have any care qualifications and I didn’t know half of the things I do now. I’ve been trained to support with PEG-feeding, nebulisers and manual handling, especially as Adam’s needs have changed.”
Doing things they love
Another part of Toni’s role as Adam’s healthcare assistant is to support him with activities he likes and access the community.
She often reads to Adam as he enjoys books and sometimes supports him to watch a football match at Old Trafford, the home of Adam’s favourite football team, Manchester United.
“Adam is non-verbal and can’t communicate traditionally, so I have to read his body language and facial expressions to understand what he likes and what he needs. You learn this over time, and it becomes second nature the longer you’re around him.”
Achieving their potential
Toni has supported Adam since he was 15 and has watched him grow into a young adult. During that time, she has seen him accomplish things that were once too difficult to achieve. This has been possible because of people like Toni who are kind, compassionate and caring.
“Adam has a gripper to help with his hand strength and as he has been using it, I’ve noticed him trying to do things more independently. The concentration on his face to just move his arm to tap me, it’s such a small thing to you or me, but it’s a huge thing for Adam and something he couldn’t have done years ago.”
More than a job
These little milestones mean a lot to young people that rely on others to support them daily. Toni plays an important role in helping Adam to lead a happy and healthy life. This role gives you job satisfaction like no other, knowing you are the reason someone has achieved their personal best.
You become much more than a healthcare assistant. You become their friend and part of their family. It’s so much more than a job and seeing them smile or do new things is so meaningful. It really is amazing.
Be the difference, because you care
The role of a Children’s Community Healthcare Assistant is for people who are caring and want to help others. Experience is not necessary, but kindness, patience and compassion are essential.
Toni says that for this role, you need to take time to get to know the child or young person you are supporting and see their potential. You need to be willing to find out what they like and discover the things that make them happy so you can be proactive and anticipate their needs.
Sound like something you could do? Check out our current vacancies and apply today!