Having a second career at Advance

In a recent staff survey 89% of those who responded said they thought that Advance had done a good job of maintaining services during the challenges of lockdown and 82% felt part of a supportive team or community at Advance. The majority of respondents (88%) also felt supported in their role by their manager.

Bev Lee is one of those managers who are well regarded by her team and customers and lives out our PRIDE values in her work.

Bev, `Queen Bee’, or `Manager Mum’ as she is known to staff and customers, is a larger than life character and has a big heart for helping people. Bev has 7 daughters, 1 son and 21 grandchildren.  For fun she likes to go camping and her favourite destination is Somerset.  Bev said: “I have seen a lot of the world, I lived in South Africa for two years, my dad was in the Forces, I remember going to school on more than one occasion on an elephant. While living abroad I had my first experience with coffee, not as we know it, you ate it with a spoon it was like treacle, and maybe that’s why I only like strong coffee.”

Despite her busy life Bev finds time to manage services and a team of 14 staff. She joined Advance in 2013 after a 20 year career in nursing.  In just a few short years she has gone from being a casual support worker to Service Manager where she manages a range of services for 38 customers across Bedworth, Nuneaton, Rugby, Warwick and Leamington Spa.  Some customers have 2 hours support each week and others up to 41 hours for a range of conditions including learning disabilities, mental health conditions and autism.

Bev has won three PRIDE awards (our Values based awards) for: ‘Respect’ for learning Guajarati, `Partnership’.  She was also selected as Annual winner of winner’s as chosen by a panel of her peers.

Bev loves the variety in her job and said: “Here in Warwickshire we provide support in different ways to our customer’s. We have three properties, where our customers may need that little extra support to help them gain the skills needed to move onto more independent living.  We have done this several times and to see a person move into independent living is one of the best feelings in the world and it shows what can be done when we work with customers to achieve their goals.

We also support customers in their own homes and we help them to maintain their independence, through assistance with; cooking, house hold tasks, shopping, prompts for making medical and other appointments and other daily living activities.

Our customer’s in Warwickshire range from 20yrs to over 70yrs old.  Not so long ago we had a wonderful married couple who celebrated their wedding anniversary with a meal and photos. We still support the husband but due to changing needs his wife has now moved into a care home.  We supported them to make many happy memories together and still support the husband to stay in contact with his wife.”

During lockdown Bev described it as `full on’.  One team leader had to self isolate for 14 days after showing symptoms so Bev stepped in to help cover the hours.  She loves her job as no two days are the same.  Being a good listener is a really important part of her job hence her nick name `Manager Mum’.  She is just as happy to do the necessary admin required for the job as she is helping a customer with their shopping or rolling up her sleeves to clean a toilet.

Bev said: “What gets me up in the morning and keep doing throughout the day is the satisfaction I get from providing a good service and helping our wonderful customers achieve their personal goals. No two days are the same and that makes support an amazing place to work.” 

When asked what has worked well during lockdown Bev said: “the online training has been amazing really.  It’s saved us a huge amount of time and made it so efficient to access whenever we need it compared to at fixed times in a classroom setting. 

She added: “What has been slightly more challenging is having a new team leader start just as lockdown was enforced.  It was tricky for her to get to meet customers and support a new member of the team remotely but we got through it and everyone has really bonded.”

Our most recent customer survey showed that 87% of customers are happy with the service they receive, 87% would recommend Advance to other people and 76% said that they feel we listen to them. One issue that was raised in the customer survey was that we could do more to make our information accessible. In response we created three new videos about Advance, maintaining a tenancy and how to give feedback.

In addition to the annual customer survey we also spoke to a sample of customers about their experiences during the pandemic, and how they felt we had responded to it.  Overall the customers who we asked said that they were happy with the way we responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and felt they were supported to keep in touch with loved ones and to stay active and engaged. 

Bev and her team are a good example of how to keep customers at the centre of what they do and in turn help us maintain and improve our customer satisfaction scores.