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An Interview with Tom Greenhall – Registered Care Manager

1st April 2021

How long have you been working for Autism West Midlands? Can you tell us a bit about your service?

“I’ve worked for Autism West Midlands for just over 3 years now as the registered care manager for Community Supported Living. My role is really varied, and I’m fortunate to be able to meet a lot of great people across the service. I am predominantly based in our supported living project in Sandwell, where 8 people have their own flat and live independently with support. The service has been on a bit of a journey over the last 3 years, particularly over the last year or so with the adaptions needed to help protect people from covid19! I also have the pleasure of working across our Outreach services based in Sandwell, Birmingham and Solihull, which brings such variety through the people we support and their interests. Needless to say, no day is ever the same!”

Tom in a face mask

What is autism to you? How would you describe it?

“I remember being asked ‘What is autism to you?’ during my interview for this position, and I can honestly say I have learned so much over the last 3 years about autism it is hard to put into words. I had worked in the care sector for nearly 10 years before joining Autism West Midlands, and had supported lots of people with a diagnosis of autism, but looking back I understood very little compared to what I do now- mainly thanks to some of the excellent training and guidance I’ve had through the company. Ultimately I always come back to the point that everyone is different in their own way, and I have never met two people the same whether with a diagnosis of autism or not. Autism is seeing elements of our surroundings or the world differently, often this brings along passions and interests which contribute towards who that person uniquely is, and sometimes the person may need a little extra help.”

What has been the biggest challenge to your service over the past year and during the pandemic?

“It’s hard to pinpoint any one challenge we have face throughout the pandemic, right across the social care sector the impact has been enormous for people receiving services and those trying to deliver a safe service. Rather than focus on the challenges which we have all been through I believe the common theme which has brought us through is togetherness. Whether it was having to cancel all plans (and many routines) on 23 March 2020 or what felt like continuous changes in guidance or wearing face masks as apart of everyday life or flexibility shown by the team to work additional shifts when needed, we have been in it together with the same goal- to keep each other, our loved ones, the service and the wider community safe.”

Looking back, what was something positive that came from the pandemic for your service?

“I think once the pandemic is over, and lets hope that’s soon, there will be some positive changes which will continue into the ‘new normal’. One positive in particular will be a greater appreciation for the outdoor activities we would ordinarily do on a daily basis, whether that be a train ride, a meal out in a restaurant or simply popping to the shop for a non-essential packet of crisps. Since many of our outdoor activities and interests have been stopped, it’s allowed opportunity to pause and appreciate the significant impact they have on peoples wellbeing.”

What message would you like to pass on to autism west midlands staff about their support and work over the past year?

“The staff team right across Community Supported Living, and from what I hear other services too, have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic. Many have taken on extra tasks or worked additional shifts and some staff even working in different service to offer support. It has been a year we will never forget, but we should all be proud of our continued support we have been able to offer those in our services. Thank you doesn’t seem quite enough…”

Thanks so much Tom!

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