Nursing Real Lives

Jade scoops Social Care Covid Hero Award for outstanding planning during pandemic

Jade Vallance is the Director of Care at Active Prospects, a Surrey-based charitable care provider for people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and autistic people. Jade has worked in care for nearly thirty years, starting out as a support worker at the age of 16 before progressing into managerial roles at regional and national providers. Jade joined Active Prospects in 2013 and has been an integral part of the organisation’s transformation ever since. In July, Jade won the Social Care Covid Hero award at the national Learning Disability & Autism awards. 

When you mention Jade’s leadership during the pandemic to colleagues, a consistent theme emerges: preparation.  

“Jade made a plan for every possible circumstance,” remembers Lynsey Way, Clinical Lead at Active Prospects. “She prepared services by insisting they had extra stocks of food and medication in the early part of March 2020. We all looked at her like she was mad, but she was right. Jade sourced PPE for every service before the government made it available, she was one step ahead of testing and had brought in a testing policy before the government made it mandatory.”

Together with Active Prospects’ CEO, Maria Mills, Jade made the decision to ‘lockdown’ services two weeks before the Government required all care homes to do the same. This farsighted leadership helped to keep people who were at risk from Covid healthy and safe. Lou Launchbury, Care Systems Manager, recalls: “Some staff did get Covid in the early days but through the procedures that had been put in place by Jade, we had minimal people we support sick with Covid.  Where they did get sick, Jade moved into services for a week at a time to support day and night staff – how many Directors would do that?”

Jade made sure that Active Prospects Covid-related plans were updated – sometimes as many as six times a week – to meet the ever-changing requirements of Government guidance. She translated guidance into Easyread and took the time to explain issues like mask-wearing and vaccines in person to people supported by Active Prospects.

When one person supported by Active Prospects had to go to hospital with Covid, Jade accompanied them at 2am and advocated for them in ICU for access to ventilators and ensured DNRs were not applied without consent. When NHS staff would not come out to care homes, Jade used her nursing skills to train staff to use oximeters, as well as being hands on by taking temperatures, handling medication and spotting soft signs of discomfort.

The Covid pandemic has brought out the best of the care sector, and there are many examples of care staff going the extra mile. Where Jade stands out is the way that, despite working endless hours with barely a break for two years, she still found time for everyone. Mimi Ghaith, one of the people supported by Active Prospects, says: “During Covid Jade was my hero as I had Covid very badly and she communicated with me on the phone for hours on end to make sure I got through my day without feeling isolated.”

When a colleague, Helen, went through a family crisis, Jade was always there for her: “Jade was so kind with daily calls and messages of concern, her generosity of time and genuine care for me gave me strength to keep going.”

The final word goes to Maria Mills: “Jade has shown exemplary leadership through Covid, always leading from the front and prioritising people’s safety. She is truly a Covid Hero, always remaining positive, empathetic and passionate. Everyone at Active Prospects is so happy that Jade’s achievements and dedication have been recognised through this award.”


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