How did you get into the care sector?
I fell into the care sector. My background was retail. When I left college, I studied business and went on to work for two large supermarkets running small and large stores. I found a lot of that experience translated and was useful in the care sector. A friend of a friend introduced me to the owners of ENA, I came down for a conversation and a bit of a trial and found that a lot of the skills I already had worked quite well with the business here. I have been here ever since, and it’s been 5 years in May 2019.
I started here by doing recruitment for the live-in care side, and have moved up the ranks ever since. I moved on to Operations Manager, started looking at processes in the business and how we improve that. This also included customer measures – how do we look after our customers and improve the care we are providing. I was then promoted to Managing Director of Hourly Care, which is a subsidiary of the main part of the company.
What qualifications have you had?
ENA supported me through my level 7 in Strategic Management in Leadership, prior to becoming Managing Director. I feel that helped round me off to have the skills to do the role I am in now. I am currently studying a Masters which is a personal ambition for my own self-development.
I sit in on training a lot and continue to go for care related training, because for me I need to be able to understand care so that we can improve the processes and support staff well. I often go out to meet clients too, they are the most important people in this business. I have also provided hands on care. If I was stuck behind the desk, I don’t think I would be able to ensure that we are providing the best care possible for our service users. It’s very hard when you are in an office to empathise with care staff on the front-line if you don’t get out from behind the desk.
What do you like about working in the care sector?
The thing I love about working in the care sector is working with people every day. There are a lot of industries and different sectors that you can work in that are very plain. I think the great thing about the care sector is that you meet people from many different walks of life, some really interesting people – not only the clients, but the carers as well. All of our care staff have a very interesting story to tell when you hear about their lives and the things they have achieved, and for me that’s the number one thing – working with people. If you are going to work in the care sector you have got to love working with people.
What is the biggest challenge in your role?
The hardest part is to manage your own expectations. For me, when I ran a supermarket it was very easy because everything is there in front of you every single day. If I wasn’t happy with something, I could change it there and then. With care it’s very different, for example, something might not be quite right and there is an opportunity to improve it, but it can’t change instantly. It often means training people further, personal development plans that are not quick fixes. The most challenging thing is understanding that everyone learns at a different pace, and you have to manage your own expectations.
What would you say to someone who is hesitant to join the care sector?
If you were to ask me 5 years ago before I came into the sector, if I would join the care sector, I would have said no. But, after working in the care sector and gaining an understanding of how meaningful working in care is, I wouldn’t even hesitate if you asked me the same question with the experience I have, I wouldn’t think twice.
I think there is a lot of bad press about the sector, I would advise that people take their time to educate themselves and understand what it is really like. By that, I mean speaking to people working in care such as us here. We often just invite people to speak to our staff. It’s not for everyone, it can be challenging at times but it is also one of the most rewarding careers you can have.
For me, I came here for a trial for 3 months, and I did leave because I had secured a job in retail management. After 4 days I came back here, because I walked back in to retail and realised that it was nowhere near as rewarding as what I am getting from this job. The most important piece of advice I can give is, ‘if you are doing a job you love you’ll never work a day in your life’ and that’s the feedback we get from staff who do love their job and do it well.
There are a lot of good providers trying to do the right thing, and you have to find the care provider that fits what you are looking for and your own values. I look at myself, the registered manager here, and everyone else in the business and most of us have come from something completely different.
Where will you be in five years’ time?
For me, I don’t see myself working in any other industry. In terms of my career path, I want to finish studying my masters and maybe have the opportunity to run the larger part of the company. Time will tell, so for now it’s using my retail experience, managing large teams and just grow the business. The more people I can impact positively, that is what I want going forward in this role.