Case study taken January 2019
What service do you manage?
My job at Jubilee House is short breaks registered manager, so I manage and oversee both our short break centres. One is for children with learning disabilities and the other is for adults with learning disabilities, which is my predominant role in the organisation. I have been with the charity for a long time and know the charity quite well. I believe in the charity so I do get to go everywhere and know what is going on across all services. I think the team trusts me because I have been here a long time, so I am a port of call for a number of people. I have varied line management responsibilities; I really enjoy hearing other people’s views because I can merge these together to get a really good view of what is occurring. I really like that aspect of it, although it can be a challenge because I have a very heavy supervision workload; I like the mix of it.
What does the adult short breaks service involve?
The people that attend this service still live in their family homes but it enables the families to have a short break from the caring responsibilities. Some of the people have quite high needs and there is a lot of physical and emotional care involved, so it gives the family a break from that. The individual may come in once a week, once a month or for a week’s holiday; it varies from person to person as according to their needs. It is very different from regular residential services because we have so many different people that come there, so there is a lot of variation. Generally, people visit a minimum of once a month. This means we can build the relationship with them to provide the best care and support possible; 90% of them are overnight placements.
What are the needs of the individuals you support in the short breaks centres?
It’s so varied. We have 40 people who are currently on our books for short breaks. You can go from somebody who has severe autism with complex communication needs, with real safety issues, to someone with quite complex health needs who need support with PEG feeding and suctioning techniques. They each need support in a completely different way. That is what is really good about short breaks; it’s the variety of people you get to work with. I have done a bit of residential services and it’s the same people so you build up routines. With short breaks, however, you never know what is going to happen; it’s really interesting and keeps you on your toes. You have to keep up-to-date. I think one of the biggest dangers in care is that people do get complacent but in short breaks it is harder to become complacent.
How have you got to where you are now?
I started with Jubilee House as a volunteer. I went to college to study Health and Social Care. I had a place to go to university but I didn’t feel quite ready for that. I opted for the working route and have progressed through the ranks. I have done a lot of different roles here. I have worked in all of the services at one stage or another. I took over managing the children’s services initially about 14 years ago; that was my route into management. Five years ago, the charity wanted to bring the two short breaks services together so that it was overseen by one manager; so I took on the adult service too. Predominantly, my experience has been children’s services which has always been my passion, but then I had opportunities to work with adults. This completely opened a new field to gain knowledge and experience. I learnt so much really quickly because it is very different to children’s services; now I am registered with Ofsted and CQC.
What qualifications do you have?
I have had loads of opportunity and I think that is why I never felt the need to leave; I don’t believe the grass is always greener on the other side. I have always had really good challenges in my roles here. I have my level 4 Management in Health and Social Care, I did my level 7 in Strategic Management a couple of years ago too. So, I have the care-based qualifications and experience as well as the management qualifications and experience. I did the level 7 through open learning, which gave me a different view on management. Care is a business now. I am all about the people but you have to be viable. It took a long time to adapt to that and I thought, ‘This is about people, it should be people focused’ and, now that I’ve moved up, I completely understand the business side of things and get to balance both.
What hours do you work?
I work a varied shift pattern. Some weeks I can work a lovely set of 9-5 for the week. Other weeks, depending on what is going on in the service, I can work an early shift, a late shift; I might have to do a waking night to support the staff and do their supervisions or appraisals. It varies, no two weeks are the same. My contracted hours are 37.5 hours per week but this is flexible. It needs to be flexible because the services we provide are flexible. I have to adapt to what my staff needs, or what the services may need, and as managers we also do on call.
What do you enjoy most about working in care?
It’s got to be the people, definitely the people; both the staff and the service users. My passion has always been the service users, to see that you can support them and they can have the right opportunities in their lives. I always think, ‘I can do this in my life so I want to help that person to do that in theirs’. It’s the way it should be, trying to help people. Sadly, the world is not going to adapt for them, so it is trying to equip them with everything they need to be able to go out into the world as it is.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Naturally, it is the work you do with the people and the work you do with the families but from a management perspective, it is about keeping those services running to the highest standard that you can. We were just successful in getting an ‘Outstanding’ in our children’s services and that was one of my biggest achievements; now it is what I am striving for in our adult services. It is good at the moment and has been consistently CQC rated ‘Good’, which is brilliant, but it would be great to get the recognition of ‘Outstanding’. I also find the team management rewarding, you can deploy different people with different skills so you can get the best out of them; I love that aspect of the job. When you can work with somebody who you think has come in with a negative attitude or not the right skills and then you see them excel, that is amazing. I do love that bit of my job as it is my chance to inspire people through my own career experience.
What is the most challenging part of your role?
Juggling all the different things you have to do as a manager. You have to wear so many different hats as a manager, you have to remember all the bits you have to do from regulation to commissioning requirements, and the people that you are supporting, and the support that your team needs. It is juggling all those different hats and reflecting what the charity stands for too. It’s always keeping that in the back of your mind and ensuring you stick to those values.
What would you say to inspire someone to work in care?
You get in what you put in. It’s the value you add to somebody else’s life and I don’t believe that you need to have prior skills before you start a role like this, because you can learn all of the skills you need to be a really professional support worker on the job. What you do need, though, is a really good value base where you value people for who they are; you value them for their abilities and what they can achieve and you want to see individuals do really well. If you have got that as a key value base, putting people at the heart of what you do, then you can learn the rest of it.
Certainly, when we interview now, that is what I am looking for. We can teach you how to provide personal care, and moving and assisting and how to do the basics of the job, but I want to see a passion for helping people and a drive to improve their quality of life; wanting to get them out into the community, seeing them smile and truly do the very best for them. You have to believe in what you are doing.
You can’t go into care just because you want a job because it is more than a job. The standards of our care are high and we will address it is if it isn’t up there, but we provide the training and support to our staff for them to provide the best standard of care.