I always wanted to be a nurse as a child, however, I didn’t make the grade. When I left school, I became an apprentice hairdresser, earning the princely sum of £25.90 per week. It was mainly the people-based element of the role which I enjoyed. Although, I had to give it up for health reasons.
I then went into retail and was a window-dresser for the Burton Group. Again, I enjoyed working with people. However, I had a hankering for care.
When my mum became a care assistant at a local authority-run care home nearby, she encouraged me to join. I started off as a relief care worker, also covering domestic roles and kitchen work when needed. I worked both jobs for a while, until I was encouraged to become a permanent, full-time care worker.
This was in 1994. After I joined I soon moved up to acting team leader and was encouraged to work towards my NVQ Level 3. Following achieving that, in 1997, I became a team leader. I stayed at the Suffolk County Council-run care home until it was sold in 2013, at which point I decided that I wanted to take a short break, took redundancy and decided what to do next.
It didn’t take me long to want to start working again. I then applied to be a deputy manager for Greensleeves at its first purpose-built home, De Lucy House in Diss. When I first started, it was a building site. I joined in July, the home manager had started in the March. We built up the staff team as the home built and following CQC compliance checks, it opened in September 2015.
I’d been at De Lucy House for about a year when the operations manager asked me if I’d considered being a home manager. Although I had, I wasn’t sure if it was too soon in my career and my time with Greensleeves to be moving on.
However, she was confident in my abilities to do the job and I, too, had confidence in myself, so I seized the opportunity, applied and got the role at Thornbank in Ipswich.
I formally started the role in January 2017. I worked in both care homes in December 2016 and over Christmas to ease the transition at De Lucy Care Home, which needed to recruit a new deputy manager. I didn’t want to leave them without one.
I wanted to become a registered manager to progress my career. However, I couldn’t have done it without the right support and encouragement. It felt like the natural next step. That said, I was very nervous of the move and the level of responsibility that’s involved. But, it is the best thing I could have ever done and the support I have really helps.
Having now been in the role for a while, it’s really met my expectations. Although the home is different, it’s an old Victorian building with an established staff team, as opposed to the new-build, new team of De Lucy House, management is still management. My residents and my staff are my top priority. It goes hand in hand.
The best part of my role has to be the achievements I have made.
I enjoy the fact that I am responsible for the happy, comfortable and homely care that is delivered by my hard-working team. It helps me to achieve my aims, and those of Greensleeves: to make life comfortable, worthwhile and happy. Happy residents and staff.
The hardest part has to be managing numerous expectations, though. They can leave me feeling pulled in different directions at times.
I was nominated to be a Rising Star by my line manager, Greensleeves’ Northern Area Manager, Ann Connell. I couldn’t believe it when I was nominated. I was extremely proud to be one of only 10 people to be involved in such an initiative. It’s quite an achievement and a brilliant opportunity.
I want to use the Rising Stars initiative to improve my knowledge and expand my networking opportunities to develop my managerial skills. Being a home manager can be quite lonely and I’m enjoying having a network of people who are experiencing similar things.
I love learning and developing my skills, so it’s great to speak to other managers about what they’re doing and keep in touch with them.
Also, the Rising Stars seminars and conferences help me to continue with my professional development and keep updated on innovation in the sector.
Looking to the future, I would like to progress in a management role. I know that I have a lot to learn and need to take my time to develop, achieve and feel confident to make the next step. However, ultimately, I’d love to be an area manager.
The Rising Stars initiative is instrumental in helping me get there.
My advice to other managers or aspiring managers is to never give up, always listen and always smile – there’s no need not to. Smiling is infectious for staff and residents. I believe you should leave any personal issues behind when you walk into the care home.
The advice that helped me the most has come from previous managers who have been my role models. Their encouragement has been fantastic. Something I was told that has stuck with me is to allow for your personal time. You have your own life too. Also, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, be realistic with what you can do and don’t beat yourself up.
Finally, I believe it’s important as a manager to listen, take the time to share information and resources as well as being there for people to discuss things with you. Ultimately, it comes down to communication.
Samantha 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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