My career in social care began in 2005, however I joined Accord in 2010 as a support worker based at Ipstones Avenue.
In 2013, I was offered the opportunity for a promotion. I found the idea of a promotion daunting, but I was assured by my manager that I had the potential and, with full support and training opportunities, I was promoted to acting team leader in 2014.
Initially, I found it challenging managing a team that I had been working alongside previously; the dynamics of our relationship had changed, but it quickly settled as I became more used to the role and earned the trust and respect of the team.
Within seven months, the role was made permanent and in October 2017 I applied for the registered manager position. Throughout my career development and successes, I have been very well supported by the management team at Accord. I have been given access to courses which have enabled me to develop the skills I require to manage my role and enhance my learning.
Ipstones Avenue is a five-bed care home, which is purpose-built to support people with learning disabilities and autism. There are five male customers in the home, with the majority of our residents having come from institutional settings.
All of our residents are non-verbal and do exhibit behaviour that can be challenging. This creates an additional level in supporting their needs, as we need to really get to know them to understand when something might be wrong.
Triggers could be as little as playing the wrong type of music, so it is important to recognise and rectify such things quickly. We support every customer as an individual, and we regularly update their support plans so that there is consistency in the way we support them and to ensure all staff can understand each customer’s likes and dislikes.
To ensure the care is as consistent as possible, it is also really important that we retain our staff, as it can be very hard on our residents when new faces come into their home to support them. Staff morale is vital here and we want staff to be as happy as the customers.
I never had the registered manager role in mind when I started at Ipstones Avenue; I hadn’t considered it as a possibility. However, when the opportunity came to step up, and I was offered reassurance and support, it made me really proud that the management team believed in me. Not only has this developed my skillset, it has also developed my self-confidence. As a result, I now take every opportunity to acquire knowledge and grab it with both hands.
I never want to stop supporting our customers – I’ve always been dedicated to being on the floor, involved in the day-to-day, and my dedication is stronger than ever. It’s imperative that I have quality time with each individual customer as often as possible. This is very important considering their needs, as they rely on us to see the signs when they are feeling unwell.
I have every confidence in my staff, they are extremely competent and always work to the best of their ability. Working on the floor alongside them not only allows me to watch them flourish, but it means that I can help them develop and we can identify and discuss where our customers require support from other agencies. It is really important that we can work in this supportive, open and transparent way.
One thing I wasn’t expecting from the registered manager role was the demanding paperwork. I have to make sure it doesn’t take away from what’s important at the time. Obviously, having the correct paperwork in order is hugely important, but you could easily forget the care side of the job if you’re not vigilant about how you split your time. Time management and prioritising have become key skills for me when striking a balance.
I do find that sometimes I struggle to switch off. My job is a part of me and when I leave the scheme, it’s like I leave that bit of me there. I try to create a balance between work and home life and make a conscious effort to not overthink, but even when taking a holiday, this is difficult. Fortunately, I can rely on my team, who I trust to keep things running smoothly when I am not there. Investing and trusting in them and their abilities is important. Having an open-door policy is also key to establishing good working relationships.
The absolute best part of being a registered manager is looking at our customers and seeing their quality of life. We make sure they don’t go without, and that nothing ever gets missed. It’s fantastic to see them smiling, being their true selves and happily living their lives. When relatives visit and comment on how happy their loved ones are, this really makes me feel like I’m doing something right.
A huge part of this is the team’s commitment. They know that new faces are a trigger for our residents and we do everything we can to make sure new staff are integrated in a way that makes each customer comfortable. This environment also means that if ever a shift needs to be covered or swapped, staff are happy to adjust for the benefit of the customers.
I didn’t know about the Rising Stars programme until I was nominated. When I read up about it, I felt so valued by our management team. I was full of pride to think that the Executive Director had thought of me for the programme, it is a real honour.
I was really looking forward to becoming a part of the programme. I have used the knowledge I’ve gained to develop myself, and re-invested it back into my team and organisation. It’s a brilliant programme and I’ve had opportunities to meet people I wouldn’t normally have had the chance to meet. Ive learned that you can be whoever you want to be – you just have to be determined. My mentor has also been a huge support in guiding me and allowing me to continue to learn and develop in ways I had not thought possible.
Working in a small service for people with such a high level of needs can be difficult, and it’s been amazing to learn from people who are supporting people with a totally different set of requirements. Networking and knowing I can contact people if I need help has been another huge benefit of the programme.
I know I still have a lot to learn as a registered manager, but I’d eventually like to work up to a Head of Service role. I have an idea of what I need to achieve to get there, and I know my organisation will be supportive and keep offering me the opportunity to develop myself.
Being given the opportunities I have, I have learned to believe in my own skills and abilities, to be braver and acknowledge my strengths.
My advice would be to believe in yourself. I have often been too scared to take certain steps, even though I knew deep down they are what I wanted to achieve. I would often wait until I’d been pushed by others who had recognised my strengths, rather than beginning those journeys for myself. Throughout this process, I’ve realised that the only thing that can limit me is myself.
I also think it’s vital for every manager to understand the importance of managing in relation to the personalities of the people they manage. This means investing in your team and getting to know people, learning not only how to support and develop them, but also how to get the best out of them. You have to do it in the way that works for you. Let your staff know that they are valued, respected and needed; lead them the way they need you to and always work as a team; the help and support they will give back to you is priceless.