A place to belong: introducing our Colleague Groups at Exemplar Health Care

25 March 2022

Pride flag made up of photos from care homes

At Exemplar Health Care, we’re proud. Proud of our diverse colleague and service user community, and proud of the work we’re doing to provide an inclusive workplace culture where everyone can maximise their full potential.

One of the ways we’re building this culture is through our Colleague Groups.

In this blog, Sam Pepper, Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Specialist, talks about why we set up the groups and how they support our equality, diversity, inclusion and belonging ambitions.

Meet our Colleague Groups – colleague poster

At Exemplar Health Care we understand the importance of being able to be your full, authentic self, regardless of your age, disability, sex or gender, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity, race (which includes colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), sexual orientation, religion or belief, or because someone is married or in a civil partnership (these are known as the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010).

Our Colleague Groups are just one aspect of ensuring that all our colleagues have a sense of belonging within Exemplar Health Care.

We hope to empower people to reach their full potential, so in turn, they can then empower our service users to reach theirs. By doing this, Colleague Groups support our mission to make every day better for the people we support and our colleagues.

Over the past year we’re proud to have set up four Colleague Groups for all employees at Exemplar Health Care.

  • A Proud Place (LGBTQIA+) Colleague Group
  • Armed Forces and Veterans Colleague Group
  • Parent and Care Givers Colleague Group
  • Health and Abilities Colleague Group

The groups give people the opportunity to share their ideas and experiences, and discuss any issues they’re facing, either at work or in their home life.

Through the groups, we want to improve inclusivity, tackle discrimination and eliminate unconscious bias.

The goals of the group are to:

  • provide a safe space to discuss issues
  • raise awareness of issues within the wider company
  • provide a source of support for colleagues
  • offer a collective voice for the workforce to communicate with management.

The groups are open to all colleagues from across our entire workforce, including care home and Central Services colleagues. They’re led by a Chair and Co-chair, who volunteer for this role.

Being part of a group also provides personal and professional development opportunities.

A Proud Place (LGBTQIA+) Colleague Group

This group is open to everyone, including those who identify as LGBTQIA+, those who have family and friends who are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community and want to be an active ally or those who have no experience of the LGBTQIA+ community but want to learn more about how they can be an active ally and improve inclusion for the community.

The group has already had some great achievements including the introduction of pronouns in email signatures and name badges across the company. They’ve produced an ‘Appropriate responses to exclusive language’ guide to help people tackle discriminatory language, and they’ve engaged colleagues and service users across the company to take photos for LGBT History Month to make into a pride flag collage.

Lauren Brooke, Core Learning and LMS Manager, is the group’s Chair and she shares: “Being in A Proud Place is important to me because as a gay woman, I feel it’s important for workplaces to have a platform for our community to express any concerns or barriers to us succeeding in our roles, but equally as important, that we have a safe place to celebrate our diversity.

“Representation matters and I feel that as I’m in a leadership role, this is a perfect opportunity to hopefully inspire members of our community or allies to strive towards their goals, join in with our open discussions and call our organisation to action where required.”

Armed Forces and Veterans Colleague Group

This group provides support and resources to colleagues who have connection with the Armed Forces - past, present, future or to be an ally!

The group first met in March and already have plans to sign the Covenant to become a forces friendly employer.

Over the next few months, our very own Alan Dalzell, Deputy Head of Behavioural Support and Mental Health, is delivering a talk about mental health in the Armed Forces community.

Andrea Stoddart, HR Manager, is the group’s Chair and she shares: “I served 24 years in the Armed Forces. I left six years ago and commenced my journey with Exemplar Health Care around five years ago.

“I feel really fortunate to be able to chair this group and meet any of our colleagues who might have a military connection.

“Through the group, I hope to champion awareness of equality for veterans, Armed Forces personnel and their families.”

Parent and Care Givers Colleague Group

This group supports anyone who has a connection with parenting or caring responsibilities at home.

It focuses on different aspects of life, including new and expecting parents and those caring for elderly or disabled relatives and friends.

The group is currently working with our HR Team to provide a family friendly guide on our family leave policies. They hope to start some ‘time for tea’ social events for parents and care givers to meet.

Sarah Southern, Activities Coordinator at Lakeview, is the group’s Chair and she shared: “I’m Sarah, an Activities Co-ordinator at Lakeview and also a Mum to a 16 month old ball of energy - and I’m not afraid to say that it’s hard!

“It’s safe to say that the past two years have been the hardest of my life, but also the most rewarding. Lockdown hit the day after I went for my 20 week scan and from that moment on, what was expected and supposed to be the happiest time of my life, became covered in a dark cloud of stress, uncertainty and fear.

“I’m hopeful that the trauma I’ve felt, the sadness I’m overcoming and the experiences I’ve had so far as a Mum might just mean something more and that I can help get myself and others the support that we so desperately need and deserve.”

Health and Abilities Colleague Group

This group is for anyone who identifies as being disabled or having a long term health condition themselves, including neurodiversity, or has friends or families who do.

The group is first meeting at the end of March 2022 to discuss renewing our Disability Confident employer status.

Lianne Biales, Trainee Nursing Associate at Lakeview, is the group’s Chair and she shares: “I’ve worked at Lakeview since it first opened almost four years ago. I progressed from a Health Care Assistant to a Team Leader, and I’m currently a Trainee Nurse Associate on the apprenticeship route.

“Outside of work, I’m a carer as my partner had an injury two years ago which left him disabled and my dad had a brain haemorrhage over 10 years ago which left him with many disabilities.

“I want to be part of the Colleague Group as I want to be there for other colleagues, to listen to them, point them in the right direction for support and ensure that their voices are heard.

“I have an understanding of how difficult it can be both in and out of work, and I believe that the Colleague Groups are a positive way of ensuring that, as a team, we’re doing all we can to ensure every day is better for service users and colleagues.”

Healthcare careers with Exemplar Health Care

A rewarding healthcare career with Exemplar Health Care offers stable and secure employment, with lots of opportunities to develop and progress if you wish.

We’re recruiting for a number of roles in our care homes including:

View all of our vacancies on our online job search.