A View from the Top

Mel Ramsey is Chief Executive of New Century Care.

Reflections on the last decade

This is my first chief executive (CEO) role so my career has moved quickly. Ten years ago I was a quality manager at ANS, which had just been acquired by a larger group. It’s been quite a ride from there to where I am today.

My career has gone full circle. I trained as a nurse working with older people. I then went into learning disability services, which was a completely different experience. I’m now back in older people’s services and, in many respects, nothing has changed. It’s sad that we’re still talking about the same things. Specialist care has come so far in ten years, which is great, we can learn so much from that. We’re still talking about driving quality, which should be second nature. We’re still talking about minimum standards and funding issues. There have been many policy changes for the better but it’s taking so long to change things.

Projections for the next decade

I’ve been with New Century Care (NCC) since last summer and it has grown from one home to the 27 we have today throughout its journey. There are challenges, including changes within the sector, but the team here are rising to these challenges. The next decade is exciting for NCC, and we have a clear plan for sustainable growth, investing in staff, training and further improving quality. For me, it’s exciting to come to an organisation and to support it to grow. We can be forward-thinking and drive continuous improvements.

I’m excited about my career coming full circle, but the sector needs to stop trying to change everything at once, and needs to move on from talking about the same issues. We need to focus our attention on making some areas outstanding, and then tackle the next thing.

We have a new care minister who has his work cut out. I hope he can work more closely with the sector. His biggest challenges have to be funding and quality. Integration is essential as are streamlined pathways. The NHS and social care must work together however; we need to stop overcomplicating things. We need to offer safe, caring environments, focus on adding value and how to manage increasing demand, increasing care needs, and frozen or falling placement fees.

Insight

I’m an operator at heart. My role as CEO has to be the toughest yet, it’s a big learning curve. But I’ve never taken the easy route. It is my most rewarding role and although everything depends on you, it’s about everyone around me making it happen. You absolutely need great people to have the same vision and drive to achieve quality. We all work together, but the real work is done by the people in the homes. Their job is tough – much tougher than when I was a home manager. The biggest risk for a CEO is to become a pen-pusher. You need to be in the homes, in the business. Staff need to see you and know you support them. I run the business by being open and making people comfortable. I’d rather tackle things head on with honesty and openness.

Influences

My life and career influences are different. I was an army child so we moved around. As a result, I’ve had many first days in new places, meeting new people. I love to be around people, which is so important in this job when we are providing a personalised care service for the people we support.

In my career, Ted Smith, has been a huge influence. He’s been my toughest boss but he’s passionate about care and developing people. I have learned a lot working alongside him.

Lessons

Keep it real and don’t over-complicate things. Do what you say you’re going to do no matter how long it takes. Deal with challenges head-on, personally and don’t pass the buck. People learn from your behaviour. Always consider the impact of your actions on others. If you don’t love what you do, don’t do it.

Advice

It takes hard work and it’s not a nine to five job. Listen to people and network. Networking is a great way to learn and share advice. It can be a lonely job so you need that network. Surround yourself with good people.

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