Derby College Group strengthens links with award-winning dementia care provider

Derby College Group (DCG) is strengthening its links with award-winning residential care provider Milford Care – with the launch of more apprenticeships at the group’s homes in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

DCG is already working with 30 staff at four of Milford Care’s six homes and over the next few months, a further 15 to 20 apprenticeships will be rolled out.

It has been spending a lot of time with the group’s care home, Ashbourne Lodge based in Ashbourne. The home was recently rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and is the only care home in Derbyshire with the 4 out of 5 outstanding rating.

Known for its ‘Montessori Champions’ programme, Ashbourne Lodge uses a fresh and innovative way of implementing dementia care, taking into consideration the care home environment, daily life and activities. Milford Care is the first care group in the UK to follow the new model, ‘Dementia and Supported Living the Montessori Way’.

This programme gives staff opportunities to specialise in areas that interest them the most, such as speech, nutrition and end of life care, while still maintaining the residents’ dignity. This approach to care is a big part of the apprentices’ training.

With provision for up to 54 residents and employing 80 staff, the home runs many activities including showing films at its own cinema. Residents also go on regular outings and receive visits from children at three local schools.

Staff at Buddleia House in Hucknall, The Meadows in Alfreton and Milford House near Belper, also recently enrolled with the college.  DCG trainers are delivering on-site training to care staff on Adult Care Worker level 2, Lead Adult Care Worker level 3 and Adult Care Leadership and Management level 5 courses.

Gina Harrison-Straw, Milford Care’s group training co-ordinator, said:

“We always aim for the highest standards of staff training, and by working with Derby College Group we can achieve greater consistency across the group.

“Starting at level 2 in Adult Care, our apprentices have the opportunity to work their way up, moving into roles such as team leader. Providing the best training will also help us progress as a group, allowing our staff to train, not just for a job but for a career.”

Jim Watt, home manager of Ashbourne Lodge, added:

“Our ethos is very much resident-centred and one of treating people with dignity and respect.  This home is our residents’ home and we just happen to work in it. If someone approaches me for a job and shows compassion and empathy, we can work with that. We can provide training for everything else.”

Among Ashbourne Lodge’s apprentices is Gail Verrall, who entered the care sector in her fifties after looking after her mum who had dementia.

Gail said:

“The on-the-job training is very good. It’s convenient that all our learning is on site, so we’re assessed as we work. As well as taking my level 2 Adult Care Worker apprenticeship, I’ve done quite a few extra courses too, including a course in palliative care. I want to keep getting better at my job and carry on using what I’ve learned to help more people affected by dementia.”

Level 3 Lead Care Worker apprentice Jordan Ellershaw would like to go into nursing once he’s qualified.

He said:

“I like thinking on my feet and being five steps ahead of where I need to be. This job lets me do that. It’s an ability which I’m sure will come in very useful later, as I’d like to work as a nurse in A&E, or as a paramedic.”

DCG Employer Partnership Learning and Assessment Manager Vicky Mycroft concluded: “We are proud to be supporting Milford Care with apprenticeships.

“Our role is to help the organisation develop the skills and competencies of their workforce whilst meeting the needs of the business and continuing to deliver the outstanding level of care that they have been recognised for.”


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