Team Leader at Foxholes Care Home
Looking after and supporting your peers is important in all work environments and, one could argue, this is something that’s particularly pertinent to the care industry. But whilst being empathetic is important in a caring industry, as with the majority of workplaces, there’s a hierarchy in place and steps have to be taken to ensure everything runs smoothly from the very top to the bottom, with leadership being key to that.
I’ve been a team leader at Foxholes Care Home for almost three and a half years now, having started out as a carer almost three years prior to that. Like most team leaders, I’ve progressed through the ranks of carer, to senior, and then team leader. Starting on the frontline – so to speak – has given me invaluable insight into day-to-day needs, but I’ve risen to team leader because of the support I had around me.
It comes back to the old cliché that if you look after your team, they will in turn look after you, so it’s paramount a culture is fostered where this mentality is adopted and practised.
During my in-house training, I was taught to always ask for help if in doubt and it was drilled into us that it’s normal to not know everything. We’re all human at the end of the day, so our knowledge is fallible. Those in care should operate in an environment where it’s acceptable and indeed expected to seek help no matter what position of power you hold. This is something I’ve taken onboard throughout my career. If a carer asks me something I don’t know the answer to, for instance, I’ll be honest with them. Ultimately, it’s about creating a culture whereby all staff feel confident to communicate.
Staff wellbeing is also crucial on the frontline and, as a carer who was supported by my leader, I want my team to get the same treatment. I always go last for my break as it’s important to me that my team have their breaks on time, so that they can unwind, socialise and have lunch together. If they’re looked after, we’re all looked after.
Creating a family atmosphere is underrated in care. I felt like I was accepted into a family when I started my career at Foxholes, and I want my team to feel the same. Senior management regularly get involved in supporting carers and it’s important for them to see first-hand that we’re all in it together.
People choose to work in healthcare because they really want to. They are passionate, enthusiastic and dedicated to delivering exceptional care and making a difference to people’s lives – that’s something that has to be commended and nurtured. Therefore, by giving the carers on the frontline the tools to learn and progress, it will help unlock their full potential, growing key talent. There’s always a variety of training and qualification opportunities for those who want it at Foxholes and we make that clear from the get-go. Retention is paramount in care and we want our carers to know they are with us for the long-haul if they want to be!
It’s been amazing to see my team develop and learn, and witnessing their dedication to the job is special. There are a few carers under my leadership that I can already see as future leaders one day, and it’s about ensuring they have the right support around them to excel in an industry that’s so rewarding if you commit and immerse yourself into being the best you can possibly be.
Sarah Weston is a Team Leader at Foxholes Care Home, a residential care home set in 18 acres of serene and peaceful Hertfordshire countryside, surrounded by grazing horses and an abundance of wildlife. Purpose built near the market town of Hitchin in 2012, Foxholes provides a luxurious standard of accommodation and facilities.