Gemma Clark and Sally Fletcher, Support Workers at Thicketford Centre have both achieved a Distinction in their Level 5 (Health and Social Care) Assistant Practitioners Diploma qualification, equivalent to a Foundation Degree from Bolton University. They have also been nominated for a Positive Contribution Award by their Apprenticeship Lead at the University.

Sally and Gemma are the first people from Adult Social Care services in Bolton to achieve this qualification and we are immensely proud of their achievement. It will enable them to provide a range of practical healthcare for the people we support across our services which will help improve the services we offer.

The qualification, which is a Higher Apprenticeship level, combines on and off the job learning and draws on the individual’s work experience. Gemma and Sally stated their studies in February 2020, one day a week by day release and completed them in May 2022.

Sally Fletcher said “I was keen to do the qualification to help me bridge the gap between the care and clinical treatments we can offer to help us improve services to the people we support.”

Gemma Clark said “I love learning and did the qualification to help me build my skills and expertise. I am looking forward to being able to travel around the services in Bolton, Salford and Wigan offering the enhanced skills and services to the people we support.”

Sanjeet Bains Managing Director of Bolton Cares said “Investing and upskilling our Support Workers in this way is essential to help us to continue to improve the quality of care we offer to the people we support. We are very proud of Gemma and Sally’s hard work and celebrate their fantastic achievements. They have accomplished incredible things despite the odds posed by the pandemic Their skills are invaluable to the company.”

Furthermore, they have been nominated for a Positive Contribution award by Bolton University and will find out the results on 30 June. Helen Higginson, Apprenticeship Development Lead explained why.

Helen told us that Sally and Gemma were the first students on a pilot scheme from Bolton Cares and have really worked hard to develop their practice. During the challenging times posed by the pandemic, both tried hard to ensure the vulnerable individuals who access the service were not forgotten. Sally and Gemma developed new and creative ways of working via zoom sessions, they did door stop visits, phone calls and everything they could to ensure engagement. This has even included re decorating the community centre to improve the environment for users of the service.

Helen Higginson said “Both of them have gone above and beyond to help the people they support and give them some normality during difficult times. They have achieved a very high standard academically and it has been a pleasure to teach them and watch their development.”