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28 years later
Jo Preece has been with Strode Park Foundation for 28 years, and it’s the variety that has made her carve her career in care at Strode.
Not one of her 10,220 days have been the same and now the job is about to get even more varied as she takes on a new challenge as Deputy Manager for Community and Independence Services.
She said: “My role varies a lot as I cover a large area of care at Strode Park Foundation including, ComCare, Outreach, LAFI and the Coach House.” Jo noted that over the last year and half there have been many challenges, and these have been at the forefront of her new role. The national shortage of care staff has been a prominent strain for her and her team, also resulting in the temporary closure of the Foundation’s day services to allow redistribution of care staff to other areas of need. Jo said: “We’ve never been up against it quite the same, it’s challenging, but at the same time there is a great sense of achievement when we complete our goals.”
There’s a lot of opportunity to progress at Strode and Jo has experienced this first-hand, having been given the chance to complete her Level 2 and 3 she has now completed her Level 5 qualification in Health and Social Care, which has allowed her to take the step into management.
She added: “I started at Strode through a work experience scheme with Youth Training Scheme (YTS) at Canterbury College. I originally came in once a week to do lessons with the residents and eventually I was offered a job as a Care and Support Worker and decided to leave college to pursue a career in care. Since then, from there I went on to become a Lead Care and Support worker, which I stayed in for four years and then I applied for my current role as Community and Independence Services Deputy Manager.”
Jo had never intended on a career in care, but once she started, she loved it. She said: “My favourite part of my role is that there is never one day the same. I don’t like the idea of having to do the same thing every day, I find it exciting to have new challenges.”
Jo has worked her way up in the Foundation. Four years ago, she decided to progress her career and become a Lead Care and Support Worker, then after completing her Level 5 in Health and Social Care, which Strode Park Foundation had put her through, she was able to progress her career further and apply for her current role of Deputy Manager for the services.
Jo has been able to fit her work around her family. In her time at Strode Park Foundation Jo has also had three children and recalls how working at Strode Park Foundation allowed her the flexibility to do this.
She added: “My manager Zoe has been great at allowing me flexibility, I was able to change shifts when needed, I came back every time after having children and was able to go part-time when I needed and work back up to full-time.”
When asked about her favourite memory of the Coach House Jo mentioned apart from having the privilege of seeing the success stories of the people who come into their care and have been able to move onto live independently, a standout moment for her was the Stride and Ride event done during the pandemic.
This event saw the Coach House residents, who would usually join in with the Foundation’s sponsored walk from Herne to Whitstable across the sea front, take to their gardens to complete their walk/wheel in fancy dress. The theme was the Coach House Express which included the residents creating and being parts of the train. Jo said: “The event really lifted everyone’s spirits in a time they needed their spirits lifting the most.”
Zoe Lee, Community and Independence Service Manager, said: “I am very proud to have been involved in Jo’s transition from Care and Support Worker to Team Leader and finally onto a management position. She had already undertaken her Level 5 Diploma which is aimed at management and so was in an ideal position when the deputy vacancy came up. She was also ideally placed to carry out the role with her vast experience of the Coach House and Lifestyles Academy for Independence and is rapidly learning the ropes at ComCare, already proving herself to be a worthy Deputy Manager who can share management responsibilities with me and step in when I am on leave. I am really pleased to have her on board and by my side and I have every confidence in her.”