Michaela Westmoreland

When Michaela started the Level 4 Information, Advice and Guidance apprenticeship, she received promotion after promotion. Discover how she stepped into leadership role that relied on her communication and people management skills.

Michaela's story

In July 2021, Michaela spoke to TSW Training Apprenticeships about her accelerated career path and plans to become an inspector, all ambitions triggered by her IAG Level 4 apprenticeship experience with TA, Janes Oates.

Hi, I'm Michaela. I work in a residential home and when I started the Information, Advice and Guidance qualification, I was a Team Leader in the Residential Home. 

During my training and gaining my qualification, I was promoted to Senior Team Leader. I now run a team of four girls who then run the shift on the floor.

Why did you want to do the Information, Advice and Guidance apprenticeship?

I wanted to progress my career. 

My little boys are growing up fast so I was able to concentrate on me a little bit more, and I thought 'what better way than to gain skills?'

My boss had told me about TSW, as she had just qualified in her Level 5 and said "Come on! Let's get on this Information Advice and Guidance qualification and get you a little bit further in your career."

I was already a Level 3, which I had done many years ago, and so I thought it was a natural step up in qualification. I just wanted to gain a little bit more of an insight into management sort of roles and taking that further step. 

Being Team Leader I knew you know I really wanted to naturally progress so that was my way forward. 

"I can't believe how far I've come to be honest. I honestly never thought they'd make a Senior Team Leader out of me. I never did."

Why did you choose this qualification? 

I feel that communication in social care settings is absolutely crucial. 

Although I wanted to gain in management skills, and there was a Level 4 Management qualification to have, I thought communication would do me a little bit better in my current job at that time, so that was my way in. 

What was your biggest challenge? 

The biggest one was COVID-19.

I never actually got to meet my assessor, which was really sad but it didn't hinder my qualification in the slightest. My assessor was incredible. 

What it did hinder though was time. In a residential setting, there were people that went off sick, there were people that had to isolate and just weren't coming to work, so I had to cover a lot of shifts.

Setting time aside for the qualification was massive. That was my biggest worry.

And then because I'm not as confident as some, I did think that some of the work would have got me and I wouldn't be able to do it but I did, thankfully. 

I honestly didn't think I could do it and then when I started and calmed down a little bit, I realised I'm physically doing the job anyway and you're just talking about how you do it. 

"I felt like I had gained so much skill. It was the starting point of me progressing further in my career. I am centre stone of the organisation... I am everyone's advocate!"

 

How do you feel IAG has helped you? 

I noticed instantly that just by doing a couple of units, I was progressing as a person, and progressing as a care assistant. I was able to reach people on a different level.

But I also progressed as a Team Leader, and then I was promoted into Senior Team Leader.

I felt like I had a different approach to people, especially after being in one of the team, and then having to manage them as a Team Leader, and then being promoted again to Senior Team Leader.

I felt like I had gained so much skill. 

It was the starting point of me progressing further in my career. I am centre stone of the organisation. Everybody will come to me with issues about residents, or about their care. Then the girls will come to me about issues within the group itself and with things for me to fix, and things for me to look at. 

So I'm everyone's advocate!

What impact has the qualification made? 

I've got so much confidence in talking to people I've never met before, because I feel like the qualification gave me the knowledge and the skill to actually do that. 

I enjoyed this qualification so much. It was so much fun that I jumped straight into a Level 5 Management qualification. I'm really excited. I've done a unit in that now. I'm just waiting to move forward in that. I can't wait. 

How was your Training Advisor, Jane Oates? 

She was just so patient and she had all the time in the world for me.

She understood that at one point, I think I kept getting a few bits of work wrong and she didn't make me feel stupid, in anyway. Whereas, if I got the wrong jist of things, I'd think: "Oh dear, I can't do this!"

She didn't make me feel that I couldn't fix it. 

She was incredible. She was a superstar, she really was.

But, I think the whole setup and the way TSW works with Smart Assessor, is fantastic. It's easy to use and I am not techy. I just think the whole thing, and you guys, were all fab. 

How was your apprenticeship experience? 

It has been a positive experience, absolutely positive.

I can't look back on it and pinpoint any time where I struggled, to the point where I didn't want to do it. 

Some weeks were better than others with shift work, and I had a bit more time on my hands. Sometimes I did the work but I would email a few days later and say "Jane, send me some more work! I've run out. Let me do something else!" 

I was just so eager because it was so interesting and I wanted to do it. I think that makes the difference. 

"Sometimes I did the work but I would email a few days later and say "Jane, send me some more work! I've run out. Let me do something else!" I was just so eager because it was so interesting and I wanted to do it. I think that makes the difference."

Your role now vs. before 

I'm producing these care plans and updating them regularly. I'm doing referrals to occupational therapists, district nurses, physios, things like that. I'm doing appraisals, one-to-ones, supervisions and investigations. I'm doing audits!

It's quite different to Team Leading. It sounds a lot more office-based, when I say it out loud, but it is still on the floor. Just normally with a clipboard and pen in my hand. 

I can't believe how far I've come to be honest. I honestly never thought they'd make a Senior Team Leader out of me. I never did. 

What’s your advice for future apprentices? 

I would say to trust you guys completely and just enjoy it. It's hard to not enjoy, because it's made fun.

I remember my first meeting with Jane on the phone and I was so nervous, it was silly. We dove into this work, but it didn't feel like it. It didn't feel like we were talking about this first unit, it just felt like we were talking about my job. 

Each and every step was linked to my group, what I was already doing and how it would just help me progress that little bit further.

I would tell anybody to just dive in, enjoy and don't look back. 

What’s the next step? 

Well, honestly, the world's my oyster. 

I'm going to get Level 5 completed. I want to enjoy it, take my time and do it really well. But then I'm not thinking of stopping, so I'm going to look even further ahead at what I can do next. 

I really like the idea of walking into a home, maybe as an inspector, and finding these little things that they've probably missed daily that could make all the difference to the people who are living there. 

I've got some big plans.