Support and Care Manager, Heather Simpson, recently celebrated a decade of service with Kingdom. She took a little time out to tell us about her career to date – and to share her experience of some adrenaline-filled pastimes.
You joined Kingdom in December 2012. Can you tell us about your career before then?
I always worked in support and care. I worked for Sense for 15 years, starting as a Support Worker and building a bit of a career. I then moved to The Richmond Fellowship Scotland, where I became a Learning and Development Coordinator.
While at Richmond, I became interested in Positive Behaviour Support (PBS). My boss at the time saw that Kingdom was advertising for a PBS Coordinator to develop and implement the approach across the organisation I now work for.
I’ve also worked in pubs over the years. A knowledge of PBS was very useful for this work.
What motivated you to join us? And – more than 10 years down the line – do you think you made the right decision?
It was actually my boss at the time who said she felt I should apply. She knew the job I was in would not fulfil me for long – or perhaps she wanted rid of me!
And yes, I’ve found something which motivates me, fulfils me and challenges me in just the right amounts, although I have not stopped yet.
You are a Support and Care Manager for our services in Forth Valley and for some of our services in West Fife. Can you tell us what your role involves and what’s the best thing about your job?
The role is diverse. One day I might be in a meeting in a boardroom or negotiating with external colleagues. Then the next, I am in a service, supporting someone with any aspect of their support needs – even going to a football match, which goes right over my head.
You’ve committed most of your working life to social care. What are the key ingredients in quality support and care?
In social care, you need to actually care. It is not a career you can pursue just for the paycheck.
I think you need to be confident, and thick-skinned at times. To ensure quality, we need to see every person we support as the individual they are. We need to know what they want from life. And we need to equip them to make decisions, even when we may not agree with the decisions they make. We all make bad decisions. I like to call them learning opportunities.
We need to put the people we support at the heart of what we do and always remember that it’s their lives that matter. We must respect the individuals we support and accept our differences. And we must recognise and build on their strengths. Quality support and care should increase confidence and self-esteem.
You are a champion for Positive Behaviour Support (PBS). Can you tell us what PBS is and why it matters?
To provide the best support to people who may present with complex needs. we need to fully understand them. And that’s what PBS helps us do.
Our behaviours are often an expression of an unmet need. PBS provides an alternative and supportive framework for expressing, understanding and addressing unmet needs.
I love that PBS isn’t concerned with any kind of punishment for behaviours which others may find challenging. If punishment worked, we would all be model citizens, because the punishments and rows we received in childhood would mean we never did “wrong” again. In my experience, sanctions just made me more determined not to get caught, or to make my “wrongdoing” worth it if I did.
PBS can have a significant impact on the creation of positive and understanding relationships between the individuals we support and our staff. Ultimately, and done well, PBS can ensure that people have opportunities in life which many of us take for granted, such as living at home, rather than in an institution, and doing fun things.
On the day you joined Kingdom, Skyfall was the biggest film at the UK cinema box office. Would James Bond make a good Support Worker for KSC?
No, there would be far too many incident reports with James Bond around. We would also lose half our workforce through death or pregnancy!
Bond also makes up his mind about people and situations without listening or paying attention to them. That’s not a quality of a good Support Worker
What’s your favourite song, and why?
It changes but at the moment it is Little by Little by Groove Armada. It reminds me that if I take my time, I can get through almost anything. I know I need to slow down now and then and this song makes me do that.
It was also the song that would put my granddaughter to sleep when she was a baby.
Can you share something about you that might surprise your colleagues?
I tried cage fighting for a while. It was great stress release, but I was rubbish and broke my coccyx
I completed Tough Mudder in four hours. My preparation for it was to get my eyelashes and nails done and have a night on tequila with a friend. I do not recommend that.
I’ve also done a skydive. Again, I would not recommend this – it was a bit bit boring and the straps are really sore.
If you had a magic wand and could make one wish, how would you improve social care?
I would inject the finance required to pay the workforce what they deserve and magic up suitable housing for the many people who need it.
Congratulations to Heather on achieving 10 years’ service and special thanks for the significant contribution she has made to the development, growth and impact of our support and care services.