Investing in & valuing care workers

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The support and care provided by staff within Cherry Road Learning Centre, ensures that the person with complex learning disabilities is happy, cared for and has a meaningful day.

Care staff are invaluable.  Artlink artists rely on care workers to support people to attend workshops, to tell artists what’s been happening for the individual, to provide new ideas and share their knowledge and expertise.

As part of our partnership with Cherry Road Day Centre, we offer workshops to explore aspects of care by exploring how people using the centre might perceive the building, the staff and the activity within the programme.

The creative learning programme offers staff and users workshops to think about how we interact with spaces or activity within the centre. Staff are involved in designing the programme of workshops by requesting particular areas of interest to their practice, or particular people they work with.

The programme builds on staff expertise and aims to relieve work related stress by taking time away from day to day practice. The programme has developed a research based practice through reflective thinking and team exchange. These practical creative workshops add to existing skillsets and can be used in their day to day work with people with complex disabilities.

Over the years we have organised diverse opportunities for care workers:

  • Classes in observational writing by best selling author Laura Marney to encourage careworkers to better describe the detail that surrounds the person with complex disabilities
  • Talks by a leading ophthalmologist Dr Gordon Duttton to make care workers aware of the amazing ways people with learning disabilities and limited or no sight, make their own sense of their immediate environments
  • Simple relaxation classes by a local reiki specialist.
  • Workshops exploring sound as communication instead of words.
  • Object Making workshops for the senses.

Current workshops are linked to our work in the sensory programme at Cherry Road Centre, with artists providing workshops which allow care workers to think about how they can use the learning emerging from the sensory workshops to enhance the persons everyday life.

‘It encourages more effective communication, as it facilitates the development of relationships between individuals and their support staff’ – Liz Davidson, Cherry Road Centre Manager

Recently, Artlink artists Claire Barclay & Laura Spring held a staff training workshop on the use of relaxation (and simple easy to make or find sensory objects) as a tool for relaxation.  The workshop, which is influenced by the work of Lygia Clark a famous Brazilian artist and therapist, presented care workers with a sensory experience from a completely different perspective. Its relevance to people with complex learning disabilities was discussed by the group and ways in which the sensory work they experienced could be incorporated into their work.

We hope in the very near future, to introduce these workshops to care staff in elderly care units. We are sure that care staff will benefit from time out to relax and understand their immediate environment in an altogether different way.

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