LD Network

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Over the next few months we’re going to be showcasing some of our Family members and their stories. First up is Ash and here’s her story.

From growing up in Zimbabwe, training to be a Learning Disability Nurse and progressing to be Transforming Care Director for the Catalyst Care Group – Ash’s story is sure to inspire you.

I grew up in Zimbabwe and from a very early age my mother (a true inspiration and role model) instilled strong values, morals and principles – all of which have shaped my choices in life. That’s why I chose to pursue a career within the Catalyst Care Group because the company culture speaks to these values. As a dedicated philanthropist, my mother would support various charitable and community causes including the Dream Foundation (helping children with terminal illnesses) and B.S. Leon (elderly care). She also supported the homeless. We’d travel around in our Honda CRV, providing food and other basic necessities, and I’d get to meet so many people with truly inspirational stories. This is probably why now I’m a passionate advocate for people’s rights and feel so strongly about turning the health and social care system around, by bringing humanity back into care.

We moved to the UK when I was 14 and lived in Stevenage. At 16, I moved to Bristol on my own with one suitcase, a teddy bear and £40. I worked in a pharmacy whilst studying for my A-levels at night college, with the aim to become a journalist. Then I fell into a Support Worker role, and never looked back. I naturally loved working at Freeways Trust and trained to become a Learning Disability Nurse at UWE, qualifying in 2010. I soon became totally fascinated by learning disabilities, autism and neurodiversity.

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I also worked very briefly at Winterbourne View where I was involved in blowing the whistle on the physical and psychological abuse suffered by people with learning disabilities and complex mental health needs at the care home. It was a challenging time, but on reflection, would I do it again? Yes. If you’re a student nurse or support worker starting out in your career, don’t be afraid to speak out on how people should be treated – with love and kindness. It should have never happened, but it did lead to a Government pledge to move all people with learning disabilities and/or autism inappropriately placed in such institutions into community care. You could say, I had been a catalyst for change – and now, the goal is not only to identify where improvements can be made, but to offer solutions to care providers to address concerns in real time through the Catalyst Care Group.

I then went on to work for Barchester and Bristol Care Homes, eventually finding Nurseline Healthcare. I started off working on the reception desk to support the team for a few weeks, followed by working in the Service Partnership Team, Registrations and Compliance, and finally within our client-facing team. When I joined the company, we were known for just being mental health specialists. Since joining in 2016, we’ve not only set up LD Network as a specialist staffing provider, but also a Transition Support Service, and CQC registered arms called Leaf Complex Care and Nurseline Community Services. We shifted our focus to an area that desperately needed expertise. To watch the group of companies grow is incredible. This started as an idea – and now we are tangibly transforming lives.

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Ash with Jarek Turif (Senior LD lecturer, UWE) working out how many collective years they've been LD nurses as part of the '100 years of Learning Disability Nursing' celebrations last year.

I joined Nurseline as a Learning Disability Nurse and was given the opportunity to grow and spread my wings in a leadership role. The Catalyst Care Group has given me the opportunity to realise that working at this level, the impact someone can make could be so much wider – not just for the individuals we support, but for our clinicians and office teams too. We are one force, pushing for positive change across society. What’s not to love?

Ash writes regularly on LinkedIn about the things that are really important to her and in healthcare. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

If you’ve got an interesting story and would like to share it with the Family, contact the Marketing Team.