Starts at Home day colleague stories – Debbie Matthews

“I have had a long and varied career of almost 25 years in care & support. I worked in mental health for over 10 years, as well as areas including homelessness, drug & alcohol, bail hostels, women’s refuge, learning disabilities and sheltered housing.

“When I was at school I wanted to be a Vet as I had a love for all animals but particularly horses. Unfortunately trying to secure a placement with the Royal College of Vets is very fierce and after several unsuccessful attempts I decided it perhaps wasn’t meant to be.

“My mother was a nurse and so I decided that if I couldn’t care for animals then maybe I would be better suited to care for people. I worked in general nursing for several years but then specialised in geriatric nursing. I really loved my work, the people and patients but I became more interested in what happens when people go home, and the support given to enable people to enjoy their independence.

“It was then that I decided to look for a role working in the community. I love the diversity of working with marginalised groups and seeing people grow, develop and, more importantly, remain as independent as possible. Supporting and empowering people to make positive changes is so important.


Always improving

“We are always looking for ways to make improvements. The ‘younger old’ are residents coming into independent living now and their needs are changing. We have to adapt to this and find ways to engage differently. We’ve already made changes to digital technology; all our schemes now have resident wi-fi.

“We are also looking at upskilling our older residents to use email and social media and work with external & statutory services who provide equipment/adaptions to keep our residents independent.

“The social aspect is also changing with the more traditional ‘bingo’ events taking a back seat and our younger residents asking for more fun activities so we’re planning lots of new and exciting things for 2020!


Making a difference

“I have a wonderful team who provide front line services to our residents. It never ceases to amaze me the level of care, commitment and dedication the officers have for the residents and I feel proud to be part of that team.

“I consider our customer service to be the best, always placing the residents at the centre of what we do and tailoring our approach to meet individual needs. It’s not always possible but we do try hard to make sure we can.


“Seeing residents in their later years independent, happy and still enjoying life is wonderful and is what we are all about!


“I’m proud of what we do because we make a difference. Remaining independent for as long as possible is fundamental to your overall happiness in life. It gives you the confidence to make decisions about yourself and others close to you and keeps you resilient, gives personal freedom and can reduce stress and promotes happiness.

“I have many fond memories from my career, from being part of Christmas Panto’s for patients to helping a family flee domestic violence and rebuild their lives.

“I consider myself to be very lucky to have had a career that has allowed me to part of people’s lives at a time when they needed support the most.”