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'Helping new care home managers establish themselves in their role'

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Care home manager, Siva Sivanandarajah, reflects on how to open up the care home sector to more potentail staff members and help these people find their feet in the industry

siva sivanandarajah

siva sivanandarajah

Siva Sivanandarajah

The care home sector has for some time suffered with a poor image despite the excellence that exists within in it. Like any industry, service or public sector there is good and bad everywhere.

Being a care home manager is not for the faint hearted and the transition from a public sector role to working in the independent sector takes more than a leap of faith.

How can we help people to make that transition?

Problems can arise from these roles being isolated and at times it can be “tough at the top”. Buddy schemes for new managers and an induction programme that creates a network of support from peers is crucial to help new managers find their feet.

In larger organisations, home managers have a chance to meet with area and regional managers and peers, but within in our communities many managers sit alone in small or single providers. For them in particular the network is crucial, not only to offer support in times of “crisis” but also to share the good work we do.

I am fortunate that my care home is part of the ’Teaching Care Home’ pilot programme. This has prompted me to think about learning in our home and how we can share this learning in our community and with others. Being a Teaching Care Home means we are striving to be a recognised beacon within our community and within Methodist Homes.

”We aim to be seen as a beacon of good support for newly appointed managers”

Our home is open to visitors from across the sector to share the changes we are striving to make and the culture of learning and continuous improvement we are developing. We aim to be seen as a beacon of good support for newly appointed managers to help them transition into the role, learn about systems, processes, team leadership and home culture and ultimately help them establish themselves in a new role in a very different and challenging environment.

This can be made more difficult by the complexity of the home manager role which is often poorly described or misunderstood.

It’s multi-faceted, complex and with a touch of the entrepreneurial about it. Learning about the process and interfaces from the care home perspective with regards to local authority departments, CQC, CCG and local health services is one thing. Internal compliance with new management, budget and governance procedures is another.

”Learning how to pace and plan is key”

The home manager role is often a combination of HR, finance, governance, catering, housekeeping, maintenance and PR, with external support in big organisations, but single providers may find they are also their own CEO. Therefore, learning how to pace and plan is key.

The pressures are often great and the clinical and commercial aspects of the role take enormous energy, determination, negotiation and sheer hard work to ensure an efficient safe and effective environment for residents and staff.

Having the ability to spend time with an established manager and gain insight into how a home functions could also be used as an opportunity for learning for potential future managers. At a time when we are struggling to recruit, “growing your own” has never been more needed and we could build capacity within our teaching care home to be a place of learning and a test bed for new career opportunities.

”We need to support each other and create networks”

Connecting across our communities is key in sharing the learning, developing skills, and building our future leaders.

We need to support each other and create networks to demonstrate how care home careers can be exciting interesting and changing. With a shrinking pool of talent we have to up our game and offer a new opportunity for the future.

Sustaining the momentum, spreading the word and describing both the challenges and many, many opportunities of working in a care home could help us remind people we are an important part of the health and social care system and a vital part of keeping it going.

Siva Sivanandarajah, Home Manager, Berwick Grange

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