Rising Stars

Julie Harwood is Registered Manager for Accord Housing Association. Accord is one of the largest housing and social care organisations in the Midlands.

Career history

My first job was working for what used to be Midland Bank, which is now HSBC. While at school, this was all I ever wanted to do, following two weeks’ work experience at Barclays Bank. Unfortunately, due to personal circumstances, I had to leave the bank.

I then spent a short period working in retail, before moving to my local Post Office, where I worked for five years. Whilst there, I applied for a job with Royal Mail, which unfortunately, fell through after I had already handed in my notice.

Finding myself out of work, I applied to work nights at my local nursing home. Whilst I was there, I completed my NVQ Level 2 and 3, gaining a Distinction in Level 3. I stayed at the home for the next five years as a care assistant. Then, in 2010, I moved to Accord and started in the role of senior care assistant.

Your organisation

In February 2016, I took up the role of Registered Manager at Accord and recently moved to manage Showell Court, an extra care scheme in Wolverhampton.

Showell Court has 64 apartments of which we are currently block-contracted to provide care hours for customers in up to 40 apartments. We support both local authority and private clients with palliative and domiciliary care as well as a reablement service. The building itself is very sheltered housing and has communal facilities including a restaurant, guest suite, hair and beauty salon, garden and a large communal lounge.

Current role

I have only been a Registered Manager since February 2016. Initially, I didn’t want to move into the role, as I did not want to take on the responsibility that came with it. However, the opportunity came along, and I decided that if I didn’t take the chance, it may not happen again.

When I started, I expected the job to be difficult compared to my previous role and that there would be a whole range of things I didn’t know and needed to learn.

One thing I didn’t realise was that staff would be relying on me around the clock, seven days a week. I found this particularly difficult to get used to as it had a real impact on my life.
However, over time, I have learned how to deal with it and it’s all part of the learning process for both me and the staff.

The hardest thing for me, however, has been moving up from being a senior care assistant to managing the team I had been working with. I was surprised how differently I saw things now I was a Registered Manager.

I initially thought that if I asked for something to be done, my colleagues would do it, especially as we had worked together for so long and were a good team. However, I found that reality certainly did not meet my expectations.

I think that until you are actually the Registered Manager of a service you don’t fully understand why things are done and the laws and regulations that have to be followed to ensure compliance.

On my part, there has been plenty of learning along the way, especially as I am in the process of completing my Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management in Adult Care.

Where I can, I have used my learning, not only to provide a better service to our customers, but also to pass on to staff to help them to provide a better service too. The best part of the job for me is the learning. It comes as part of the journey. I also enjoy leading the staff team to where we all want to be and having them share that same vision.

Rising Stars

I wasn’t aware of the Rising Stars initiative until my manager asked me if it was something I would be interested in. I said I would give it a go, although I wasn’t sure at that point what it would involve.

When I was chosen to become one of the first Rising Stars, I was surprised, shocked and really pleased. As part of this programme, I would like to learn new skills that will help me in my role and also have the opportunity to meet with others. I love to learn and feel this is a good opportunity for me to develop.

The future

Looking forward, I would like to keep on developing my skills and learning. There’s a whole range of information and knowledge out there for everyone. With this learning, I can then pass it onto my staff team to improve the service we provide.


I think for anyone that is considering becoming a Registered Manager, my advice would be to just go for it. However, I should add that you mustn’t forget where you started, especially if like me, you were a care worker. This background and experience provides you with the understanding of care from your team’s point of view and also your customers’ point of view.

Also, hold on to everything that you have learnt and grasp any opportunities for learning that are available. You may think further training doesn’t apply to you, but you never know when you will be able to use it.

Without the support of my manager, and also all other managers that are part of the Rising Stars initiative, I don’t think I would be where I am now. At times, I’ve needed encouragement to get through things and hope I can pass this support and encouragement to my own staff team.

NCF Rising Stars Programme Applications Open

Thanks to the sponsorship of Carterwood, the National Care Forum (NCF) is able to offer the NCF Rising Stars programme for a second year. It is now open for applications from NCF members.

‘At the NCF, we know that good leadership is key to the success of our sector…However, we also know that the future is only a day away, and to that end, we cannot rest on our laurels. The not-for-profit sector needs to focus on building a new set of leaders who can shape and transform the future provision of care in the UK. With this challenge in mind, at NCF we decided to take some action and begin the important process of investing in our leaders of the future – and so the Rising Stars programme was born.’ Vic Rayner, Executive Director, NCF.

The programme:

  • Is open to Registered Managers who have taken up their post in the last year within NCF member organisations.
  • Provides an opportunity to develop the next generation of leaders within the sector.
  • Draws on the leading lights throughout the membership who offer inspiration, expertise and innovation.

Send your completed applications to helen.glasspool@nationalcareforum.org.uk by 30th March 2018.

As part of the programme, NCF is offering ten free places to attend the NCF UK Care Conference on the 17th and 18th April 2018 to the successful candidates – registered managers who would benefit from the opportunity to engage with the conference programme, delegates and speakers. The conference provides Rising Stars with the opportunity to hear first-hand about key policy developments, best practice innovations and challenges facing the strategic thinkers within the sector. During the conference, there will be a dedicated session for the Rising Stars, and they will be introduced to a programme of support that will run through the year.

The full details of how to nominate someone for this programme, and any organisational commitments, are on the NCF website, www.nationalcareforum.org.uk. 

Julie is part of the first ever cohort of Rising Stars. This innovative programme, developed by National Care Forum and supported by Carterwood, is designed to identify leading lights within organisations who will shape and form the care sector in the future.

More information about the programme, the candidates and future opportunities can be found at www.nationalcareforum.org.uk

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