Case study taken January 2019
How did you get into care and why?
I started off as a childminder when my first child was born. Adult care came about years later in 1996. Being a childminder was great when my kids were little, it fitted around my life. When both my girls were at school, I felt like I needed some adult conversation. I enjoyed what I was doing as a childminder; the play and educational side of it, so I knew I wanted to stay in a kind of caring role but wanted a change. The only other job I had done was office work. One of my friends was a care worker and she said ‘I do this and I love it’ so I thought I would give it a go. I applied, interviewed, shadowed, and that’s what I have done ever since. There was not as much training back then so it was straight on the job.
How have you progressed to Registered Manager?
For me, starting as a Care Assistant initially made me realise that I was very serious about what I did and thoroughly enjoyed it. This was recognised by the senior team of the company I worked for, and after a few months they realised there was more potential in me. I was great at helping new carers and was recognised as being great at providing care. I went on to be a senior carer, writing assessments, care plans and generally doing more admin roles as well as frontline care.
I then moved to a care home setting as a senior, and then my previous company wanted me back as a care manager. At the time they were placing staff in the NHS and domiciliary home care. It was a dual role. I didn’t want to leave my current role, so did this adhoc and then accepted a permanent position. They then promoted me to a registered manager position in another of their branches. It’s grown from there. Since the 90s I’ve either been recruiting carers, training carers, or managing care services. It’s been very varied.
It was hard work, determination and showing I had a willingness to learn, and could apply that learning to the job that I was doing. I had no qualifications when I left school – I didn’t leave with a GCSE or anything. I hated school but I love learning now because it is my choice. I love every minute of it today just as I did then.
What qualifications have you achieved?
So many! I have my level 4 and I am about to do my level 5 which starts in April. I’m a qualified trainer, I have done champion pathways at HCPA. I did my Level 3 Training qualification, formerly PTTALS at HCPA, supervisory training. There is loads of ongoing and update training. Every day is a training day because you learn something new every day.
How supportive are you to your staff team?
Even now I still provide frontline care and I still absolutely love it. For me it’s not being a behind the desk manager, it’s about being there and showing staff that you are willing to do everything you do. When I managed a care home, I would be seen bathing the residents, helping in the kitchen cooking for 64 residents and staff, wherever I could provide additional support I would. I believe that you lead by example. I am not asking my staff to do anything I wouldn’t do or haven’t done myself. If I do go out with a team member, I give them the opportunity to tell me what to do because they know their clients better than I do. It shows that I am human as well, just because I have a manager title, I’m still who I was, I’m still out there frontline and supporting my staff.
What hours do you work?
I would love to say it’s a Monday to Friday 9-5 job, and essentially on paper it is, but my phone never goes off. If staff need me, they can get hold of me, I’m on call rotation every other week. Even when I’m not on call I provide everyone with my private number anyway. I say it’s a Monday to Friday job, 365 days a year. I’m like the martini girl ‘anytime, anyplace, anywhere’!
How did working in care fit around having children?
I was a single mum when I started in care. I was lucky to have really good friends, an ex-husband I got on with really well who had the children regularly, working within the school hours and the evenings where there was childcare available, I just juggled it around when I could. It wasn’t easy but it worked well.
The staff we have here that have children are supported really well. Many of them work in school hours, and are able to sort childcare during the school holidays with friends, family members and having each other’s kids when on shift. If someone really struggles with childcare then we will adapt the work schedule to the hours they can do.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
For me, the most rewarding part is to see that client stay at home and remain where they want to be. Who wouldn’t want to stay in their own home with all their memories around them, all their treasures, friends that can flit in and out, no restricted hours? Being able to enable someone to stay in their own home, in the environment where they feel safe, secure and happy, that pleases me.
I have a couple of dogs so they come to work with me and I take them to visit clients. One of my clients called because she was feeling really down and so I offered to bring the dogs to see her when I finished work. She said ‘I’d love that’. So, I popped over for half an hour and she just spent the time stoking the dog. The smile on her face just made my day. It was so nice to see her happy.
What is the biggest challenge in your role?
The biggest challenge is recruitment. There is a stigma attached to care, you only see the horror stories on TV, and never the good stuff, the happy endings. The hardest thing is recruiting quality staff that truly care.
We recruit people on personality rather then knowledge as it is the best place to start. If someone can have a conversation with me, be happy, smiling and relaxed then I have won half the battle. I can teach them the fundamentals of care, but we can’t teach personality.
The other challenge is with clients; the hardest part is when someone doesn’t want to be here anymore, they have had enough, are tired and sad and they just want you to help them. We help them how we rightly should help them, but the help they want is to end their life. Supporting someone through that process and making them aware it’s not their time yet is hard, but what can we do to make someone see that it’s not all bad? We try to get them excited about seeing us each day instead of focusing on the negatives.
What would you say to someone who is nervous to work in the care sector?
Just come in and have a chat, ask any questions you have, find out as much as you can from us about care. We tend to talk about the things that we do for people, the outcomes that have been achieved for people and the happy stories. Some people have seen so much negativity about care so we would say ‘Come and try it, you’ve got nothing to lose’, as then they can determine what it is really like to work in care. Home care is really rewarding because you get to aid people to stay in their own homes, and that is ultimately what most people want.
If you want to come into care you’ve got to want to really care, and you have got to want to make a difference to people’s lives. You can’t just come into care because you want a job, there is more to it than that. We provide you the support, the ongoing reward, and the training.
I love what I do, and I just want other people to come in and love what they do as much as I do.