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Supporting registered managers

Georgina Turner explores some of the ways that registered managers can access support or contribute to the development of others and looks at some of the tools available to help them manage and deliver great care.

Registered managers in social care frequently describe their role as rewarding and fulfilling; and we know it is a career that people choose because of a strong desire to care for people and improve their lives.

We also know that, just like leaders in any industry, if you’re a registered manager in social care, it’s important that you give yourself time to consider the support you need as an individual, because how you manage yourself shapes how you lead others.

Strong and supported leaders are pivotal to the provision of high-quality services and person-centred care. There are 22,200 registered managers in England and, with approximately 50% of managers reaching retirement age in the next 10 to 15 years, it is vital that we create a supportive environment for people stepping into the post.

There are lots of ways registered managers can get the support they need to take care of their staff and deliver good quality care. There are also many different ways that managers can get involved in supporting their peers – the skills, knowledge and values that make great leaders all exist within the sector.

Local networks

Registered managers often report feeling isolated – a busy, multifaceted role is exciting and rewarding, but can accentuate this feeling. The role is unique, high pressured and full of responsibility.

For registered managers at any point in their career, joining a network has significant benefits. A recent evaluation of local networks, led by registered managers and supported by Skills for Care, found that attendees reported feeling more supported in their role and that networks allowed them to acquire additional skills and knowledge.

‘The most positive outcome of the networks has been learning from other providers and their experience in things like Care Quality Commission inspections, what has worked in terms of recruitment and new ideas.’ – Registered manager.

For new managers, networks may provide a safe-space to discuss issues or questions; for experienced managers it might be an opportunity to share knowledge or hear new ideas. No matter how long a registered manager has been in post, speaking to people in the same role is a great way to reflect, challenge themselves and learn.

When we asked registered managers about what they got from their local network, they told us:

‘As a manager of a small, independent home, it is extremely helpful to be part of the network, as I gain invaluable knowledge from other managers and those from organisations whom attend to offer information, saving me precious time and resources.’ – Registered manager.

‘It has been an essential support network to me and has been effective in engaging with, and influencing, key stakeholders.’ – Registered manager.

There are over 120 networks in England – these are led by registered managers and supported by Skills for Care. Networks are free to attend and focus on providing topical and useful information, peer support and building links with local stakeholders.

Mentoring

Choosing to become a mentor or a mentee provides a fantastic opportunity to share and learn new key skills, knowledge and experience. It is a partnership between two people and a good mentor will motivate, encourage, support, empower, nurture self-confidence, aid reflection and explore strengths and weaknesses.

Being mentored can boost morale and confidence, and can be of considerable value in supporting continued professional development. Being a mentor can help people to reflect and improve practice and is known to improve job satisfaction; it also provides tangible skills in listening and giving feedback.

Mentoring is built around the mentor supporting their mentee to move forward, by taking ownership of the solution to a specific situation; it is about focused, positive and proactive support – and whilst many people think it is about solving problems, it is also about developing opportunities. The relationship between mentor and mentee is non-judgemental and built on confidentiality, allowing an appreciation of different perspectives.

Registered managers in some organisations may already have access to a mentoring programme or mentoring might be available via a local network.

Alternatively, access to mentoring is a central part of the National Skills Academy (NSA) for Social Care’s registered manager membership package, which includes the sourcing and placement of dedicated mentors. Not only can people find a mentor via membership, but those registered managers interested in supporting others have the opportunity to train as mentors.

Explore management style

Local networks and mentoring both provide opportunities for reflection. Making time to reflect on their practice, either individually or as part of a support programme, allows registered managers the space and time to think about how they do things, including asking themselves, ‘is the way I work encouraging my staff to perform to the best of their abilities; could I do something differently?’

For registered managers to know where they have strong skills gives them the opportunity to develop the positive aspects of their work. However, it’s also important for them to identify where they might need to improve their approach or strategy. In both cases, having some clear and tangible baselines available can help.

The Leadership Qualities Framework (LQF) is a comprehensive guide, specific to managers and leaders in adult social care, based around the building blocks of leadership; these are referred to as the seven ‘dimensions’ of the LQF.

The LQF gives practical examples of what good leadership looks like against each of these dimensions (with each broken into four bite-size ‘elements’) at leadership levels from frontline worker through to registered manager or strategic leader.

A manager can use the elements relevant to them to reflect individually on practice, or in discussion with their staff, to gain feedback on their management style. This may also be useful if managers have responsibility for growing new leaders within their organisation.

It is important that all managers make time for reflection – either as a standalone activity or as part of their own supervision or review meetings. Remember, the best leaders reflect on their own needs as well as on those of their staff.

Managing and delivering great care

Reflection is only one part of developing a management style and, in turn, improving quality or driving change in an organisation. There are also many different tools available to help you manage and deliver quality care.

  • Signing-up to the Social Care Commitment enables employers and employees to choose from a number of tasks designed to help improve services. It’s a great tool for embedding what staff should be doing on an everyday basis and demonstrates commitment to supporting and developing staff.
  • The People Performance Management toolkit is a free tool which managers can use to help with the everyday management of their staff. It contains information such as how to discuss a drop in performance with a staff member or how to conduct a formal performance review.
  • Knowing what is best practice is vital for registered managers. Skills for Care has published Common Core Principles to support the development of people working in care on a range of topics. These include: Dignity, Equality and diversity, Dementia care and End of Life Care.
  • As leaders, registered managers have a key role in setting a service or organisation’s shared values, norms and expectations. The Culture toolkit, developed by Skills for Care, provides activity sheets and good practice examples to embed a positive workplace culture.

National Skills Academy

As well as ensuring that support is available to all registered managers, it is vital to assert the value of the role; ensuring it has the status and profile it deserves. No other role impacts so fundamentally, both on people in need of care and support, and the way the adult social care sector is regarded by the public.

Skills for Care recommends that all registered managers become members of the National Skills Academy (NSA) for Social Care. Hosted by Skills for Care, it is the membership body for registered managers in England.

Managers in every industry perform to their best when they have the support and assistance they need available to them. The resources in this article should help managers to develop themselves and their staff, and deliver great care.

Further resources

Registered Managers Resources

Registered Manager Networks

Registered Managers Membership

Management Tools

The Social Care Commitment

People Performance Management Toolkit

Core Common Principles

Culture Toolkit

National Skills Academy for Social Care

Georgina Turner is Programme Head – Employer Engagement at Skills for Care. Email: georgina.turner@skillsforcare.org.uk Twitter: @SkillsforCare

Have you used any of these tools? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Subscription required.

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