The inspirational manager of a care home in Mansfield is celebrating 25 years of supporting and helping people with learning disabilities.
Jo Hardwick was just 21 when she started as a care worker at the privately-run Corner House on St Margaret Street. Now she has completed a quarter-century after progressing to boss and winning a national award along the way.
“Working with the residents and the dedicated team at the home has been a blessing for me,” said Jo. “I am so proud to see how far the service has come.
“We have become a large family in a lot of ways and, because our residents are here for the long term, I have been able to get to know each one of them very well. I have learned what they want out of life and, hopefully, I have been able to help them realise it.”
Corner House, which looks after 12 residents, was Mansfield’s first care home for young adults with learning disabilities and complex needs when it opened in 1985. When Jo started, she was also working evenings as a community support worker for a local NHS treatment and assessment unit.
After three years at Corner House, she gave up her second job when she was appointed assistant manager at Corner House. She became manager in 1991 and has since witnessed huge changes in the care and support of disabled people in the UK.
In 2009, the Care Quality Commission was introduced, which Jo says provided more protection, both for residents and staff. And in 2012, Corner House was taken over by the Sanctuary Supported Living organisation.
“The acquisition by Sanctuary has been fantastic because there have been more resources available,” said Jo. “For example, we’re getting a £400,000 refurbishment for the property this year which will give our residents the most up-to-date facilities.”
Corner House is a vibrant home where the residents not only receive personalised care but also have an active social life, helping to organise events, activities and workshops.
Most of Jo’s team, including deputy manager Janice Spencer, have also been at the home for many years, and her dedicated stewardship helped them win a citizenship accolade at the National Learning Disabilities Awards in 2014.