Posted 15/07/2022

People of Swan – 5 questions with Louise Joseph

This month we spoke to Louise Joseph, Head of Specialist Accommodation, as part of our new series ‘5 Questions With’. In the series, we will be talking to various people across Swan Housing, to hear their insight into the amazing work they do.

Q: Can you introduce yourself and tell us what your role is at Swan?

Hi, I’m Louise Joseph, Head of Specialist Accommodation based in the Care and Specialist Accommodation directorate at Swan Housing. I oversee our Key Worker Living services, Foyers for young people and Supported Housing services for our more vulnerable customers.

At Key Worker Living, we work with NHS Trusts to provide accommodation for NHS staff across three hospital sites in Colchester, Chelmsford and Romford. We offer three types of accommodation, long-term self-contained units, shared accommodation and a short stay offer. This service is delivered more along the lines of hotel type accommodation for staff that are required to be within close proximity to the hospital, or are on very short-term placements away from home, such as consultants or specialists.

Our Foyers house young people aged 16 to 25 who may be homeless, or at risk of homelessness, and in need of Employment & Training support, assisting them to develop the skills to live independently. We provide a safe and caring place to live, learn and transition to adulthood. Residents are supported by our Young People’s Coaches who focus on opening doors and inspiring futures. We have three Foyers: Swan House Foyer, Basildon; Heather Court, Havering and Dove Cott House, Basildon. Dove Cott House is a specialist service to young parents only and provides opportunities for residents to develop along with their children before moving into independent living.

Supported Housing looks after our more vulnerable members of society and delivers services to a range of customers including those who may possess a mental health illness, learning or physical disability, or require accommodation in our sheltered or Extra Care properties. We have over 100 of these properties all over Essex and we partner with a range of agencies who deliver care services where required, including Swan Care at our Extra Care scheme, Dobson’s House. 

Q: How does your role make a positive impact to people’s lives?

I think a really good example of how we make a difference to people’s lives is our young people’s Foyers. Our Foyers are AQA accredited so residents leave with qualifications. We also organize a range of learning activities and events that provide amazing experiences for residents. For example, we recently took some residents to the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square to see a play titled ‘For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide’, which sparked some meaningful conversations on the coach home. It’s so important that as well as providing a caring place to live we can inspire our young people, growing their strengths and ambitions by teaching them life skills that allow them to dig deep and explore experiences they could never possibly imagine.

Q: How rewarding is your role?

On a scale of 1 to 10? 25! There is always a snippet of something positive every day.

Recently we took a group of our young residents into London and one of them said it was the first time they had seen Big Ben. There’s lots of things that are easy to take for granted, but providing these experiences are so important and significant for our residents.

Another rewarding element is the number of NHS staff whom access our services, the team continue to deliver services to an exceptionally high standard meeting the demands of the customers and the trusts.

Q: What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the teams I work with and the excellent services we deliver day in, day out, no matter what part of my team you are located in. The teams really pull together when needed and will work across services to ensure that service delivery and quality are not compromised. I am mostly proud that they put up with me all day, as I do have high standards!

For so many, the pandemic was really challenging, it meant all our teams changed how we delivered services, how we kept ourselves and the customers as safe as we could despite very little being known about the virus initially.

Our Key Worker Living services went above and beyond. Our team hugely stepped up despite the unknown. We provided emergency rooms for isolating NHS workers and overhauled our cleaning operations. A director at the NHS Trust contacted me mid-Pandemic and commented “Swan provide more than just four walls.” It made me incredibly proud that our team adapted to meet customer challenges and deliver high quality service to key workers during such a turbulent period. 

Q: What have you learnt from working at Swan?

No two days are the same. That we can always do more and can always strive to be better.

I’ve learnt at Swan that we have a great set of people who strive to do a good job. People really are at the heart of everything we do.