I came to the UK to study accounting in 2006. I needed a part-time job to support myself and a friend recommended looking for work in the care sector, so I started in a housekeeping position in a care home. I found that I was really passionate about the work I was doing and stayed at the organisation for seven years.
I got promoted, working my way through care roles, before moving to another company to become a deputy manager. In 2015, I then went to Arthur House where I took on my first registered manager position. It became one of the first care homes to receive an Outstanding rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and that’s something I am still very proud of.
Looking for a new challenge, I moved to Avante Care and Support in 2018, where I became responsible for the home I manage now. It was rated Requires Improvement and I was keen to make changes before our next CQC inspection. I was delighted when, in November 2019, we achieved Good, with an Outstanding in Well-led.
I’m also currently studying for a Master’s degree in dementia, which is a particular area of interest for me. I’m looking forward to completing this and having a really in-depth understanding of the subject and using this throughout my work and with my team.
Riverdale Court care home is an 80-bed residential care home in Welling. We care for older people and those living with dementia. Riverdale Court is a popular and well-supported home with a great reputation within the local community.
Alongside our full-time care provision, we run day care and respite services too. There are a number of clubs and classes for residents at Riverdale Court, including an intergenerational foreign language class, where a local children’s French club comes into the care home and teaches the children at the same time as our residents.
We encourage them to maintain or regain as much independence as they can using modern technology to support people; our home has a dedicated sensory room and a RemPod as well as robotic cats and dogs. I also bring my dog to work, which the residents love, and our handyman does the same. We try to create a homely environment so that our residents and guests feel comfortable and relaxed.
I’ve been in my role for over 18 months now. Becoming a registered manager wasn’t necessarily what I had planned. I didn’t do well in my A-Levels but what I love about the care sector is that it’s not all about that. You need passion and drive, and I make sure that my staff understand that any of them could be a manager one day if they want to be. One of the best parts of my job is seeing my team recognised for their hard work and being promoted, and helping them to progress in their careers.
I like to show my staff that they have my full support. I started at the bottom rung of the ladder so I’ve seen and experienced a lot of things. No-one is perfect, things go wrong but it’s how we react to these things that make us who we are.
I think that being enthusiastic about your work makes it more rewarding, and having appreciation shown by our community is so motivating. It is a challenge, but I think anyone can be a manager – you just need passion, patience and a desire to always be learning new things.
The time management is one of the most difficult parts. No day is the same, which is a challenge that I love – I always say you have to be a chameleon in this job. But it does mean that your schedule goes out of the window on most days. Of course, the residents always come first, so if you were planning to do some paperwork, but then a resident needs you, there’s no question which one you prioritise.
NCF Rising Stars
I first heard about the NCF Rising Stars programme at an NCF conference in 2018. I met the previous Rising Stars there and asked them about it to find out how it all worked. I went straight back to my manager and asked if they could put me forward. She did and I was so pleased to be selected.
I think it’s a great opportunity for new managers to learn new things – and you get to learn from leaders like Vic Rayner, Neil Eastwood and other sector influencers. It’s a huge privilege and I’m sad it’s nearly over.
I feel so lucky to have had the mentoring and the opportunity to meet other Rising Stars and to be able to learn from each other. It’s a brilliant programme and makes you feel like your role isn’t just to be a manager – it supports us to be better leaders too.
For the immediate future, I plan to finish my Master’s degree and then settle down a bit maybe. Looking further ahead, I am keen to one day progress to regional director and ultimately to make a change in dementia care; it’s always been a dream of mine to write a book on this subject. I want to be a part of the people and leaders changing the social care sector, especially the dementia area.
I’m also a big advocate for care workers and their rights, and am keen for it to be recognised and considered as a professional career. I’m actually in touch with National Association of Care and Support Workers about this as I know it’s a key focus for them.
My advice is to just go for it. Always believe in yourself and make sure you ask for help when you need it. When you talk to people about becoming a registered manager, they are often put off by the idea, but there is so much support out there. Being part of membership organisations that exist to help you do your best and talking to other people in the sector helps you to feel like you’re a part of something.
I am really lucky to have a great connection with my line manager too, and I think that’s important – to have someone who is supportive and is willing to learn with you.
Share your passion, see where it takes you and remember it’s not always about the money – find a company where you are supported, happy and comfortable and you’ll reap rewards in other ways.
Now in its third year, the NCF Rising Stars Programme addresses the need to invest in and develop the skills of the next generation of leaders in social care, with registered managers from the NCF membership selected to take part each year. Nominations are now open for the next cohort – apply today.
NCF Rising Stars media training day
Key to providing person-centred care and support is the dedication of managers and carers, they are ambassadors for their service and organisation.
The NCF Rising Stars spent a day with Altura Learning at their studios in Milton Keynes, which provided dedicated media training on different situations that care and support managers might find themselves in everyday; understanding how they present themselves, successfully communicate, improve their customer service skills and build their confidence in difficult situations.
‘We interview and are interviewed everyday – you don’t realise how often you use these techniques!’ said Kelly Hartley, Manager of Cherry Garth, The Freemantle Trust.
Training started with tips about being interviewed by a professional presenter. Not something that you would think was commonly needed, however it was interesting to hear that two of the ten Rising Stars had already been interviewed for radio and live local TV news stations.
The session moved on to a ‘live studio situation’ with questions and conversation with an experienced interviewer and where the Rising Stars were able to practice these skills under the glare of the camera and seeing themselves in action, followed by autocue training and an off-camera interview.
‘I’m going to take on board everything I’ve learnt today from the media training session going forward. It’s been so helpful and insightful and I can apply what I’ve learnt to everyday situations.’ – Sam Pycroft, Retirement Community Manager at Sandford Station Retirement Village, run by St Monica Trust.