Careers interview: registered care home manager
What is your current job role?
I am a registered care home manager, working with elderly people and people with dementia. I am ultimately responsible for all 40 residents as well as 55 staff including care, kitchen, laundry staff and a caretaker.
What might a typical day look like?
There really is no typical day! I go into work with a list of tasks to be achieved, however, I regularly make it to the end of my to do list as things change constantly when you are working with elderly and vulnerable people. My main aim is to ensure that the residents are doing fine and much of my time is spent in meetings, such as care planning meetings, council meetings and management team meetings. I also regularly meet with managers from other care homes to share best practice, particularly around infection control due to the pandemic.
I also spend time undertaking risk assessments, writing, and updating policies and procedures, planning staff rotas, undertaking staff appraisals and day-to-day staff supervision. However, I make sure I spend my last hour every day with my residents which might involve playing a game of cards or playing dominoes. This enables me to build good relationships with my clients and it’s something I really enjoy, too. The residents always brighten my day and make my role more interesting and rewarding. In fact, that last hour is my favourite part of the day.
I also spend much of my time preparing for, and being involved, in Care Quality Commission visits. They regularly carry out thorough checks of residential and care homes to ensure they are being run safely and effectively. They will check safeguarding procedures are in place, that care assessments and care plans are sound, whether finances are in order, and they will look into any logged accidents and complaints. They’ll even check that the kitchen cupboards are clean! Their visits are so rigorous and that can be quite stressful, but these are essential to ensure high standards of care are given to the most vulnerable.
What was your motivation for choosing a career in the care sector?
I completed a CACHE Diploma in health and social care at college, which I really enjoyed. Plus, as part of the course, I was able to take part in a work experience placement at Shotley Bridge Hospital which I particularly enjoyed. However, as soon as I finished the course, I spent some time working in retail which I found dissatisfying, and I quickly decided to seek work in the social care sector. Ever since, I’ve felt lucky to have had a fulfilling and rewarding career.
What do you believe the key skills and qualities needed for your job?
There are so many important key skills and qualities needed to work in care. It is an incredibly challenging job, and the work can be demanding and physically and emotionally draining. So, the job requires people who are passionate and dedicated to their work. Having patience and a cheerful disposition are extremely important and being able to multi-task and problem solve are useful too. Being approachable and accessible for the residents is essential and excellent listening skills and the ability to build trusting relationships are a pre-requisite. The ability to show kindness and understanding, even when times are difficult, is also important, as is the ability to empathise and take responsibility for your actions.
It is not a nine to five job - so you must be willing to go the extra mile to meet the demands of the job. There are many other transferable skills too such as honesty, reliability, and flexibility that employers in the sector look for to help services run safely and smoothly.
In my current role as a manager, I also need to be able to read, understand and manage budgets and to work strategically, seeing the bigger picture, planning ahead and managing expectations. For example, I might be approached by a council to take a vulnerable client, and, because the home needs funds to keep the business financially healthy, the owner may be keen for us to take the resident into our care. However, if after undertaking a risk assessment I discover that our home cannot meet the specific needs of the individual, I have to decline admission for that particular patient. This can be challenging if I feel under pressure from the council and my employer, however, I often have to make these decisions to ensure that we only take residents into our care if we have the expertise and resource to care for them effectively. You therefore need confidence in your decision-making ability, resilience and emotional maturity to cope with these demands.
What qualifications do you have?
I initially completed a health and social care qualification in college but decided to progress my qualifications further whilst working as a care assistant. I have also completed NVQ levels 1-3, and I then completed a level 5 team leader qualification. My next step will be to complete a level 7 management qualification to support me further in my current role.
What previous job roles have you held?
I started as a hospital escort before moving into a care assistant role within a day care centre, running activities for the elderly. I was then promoted to Senior Carer and then Team Leader. I worked for the company for 16 years.
What has been your favourite job?
The Day Care Centre Team Leader role has been my favourite. I had much less responsibility than I do in my current role, and I never brought work home with me. The most rewarding aspect was making other people happy. The clients had fun, and it was great being able to support clients to live their lives as independently as possible. It was also rewarding supporting dedicated and hardworking staff, and working as part of a multi-disciplinary team of professionals.
Do you have any tips for people considering careers in social care?
Be prepared for long days and unsociable hours. Also, you may find you get emotionally attached to your clients and you will have days where you will need to dig deep for the courage and resilience to keep going. You will also face challenging behaviours on a day-to-day basis.
People with a range of life experiences make some of the best carers, therefore work experience via volunteering can be useful to gain insight into the job role and its demands. Clients' safety is paramount, so staff are stripped of their false nails, eyelashes, heavy boots and so on, so you need to be prepared to adhere to workplace dress codes.