Real leadership is about impact, influence and inspiration. This cannot be truer than what has transpired in the ever-changing environment over the last two years, which has impacted all social care businesses, including us at Serene Care.
As a boutique care home operator specialising in dementia care, the Group was set up alongside Jay Dodhia (CEO). Jay and I came into the sector with a different perspective and the view that good quality care should be affordable to all. We both have very complementary skills, having started our careers at Goldman Sachs in investment banking without any preconceptions of working in social care. Having worked in Operations, Project Management and regulation, including dealing with the FSA and FCA, I naturally took to the role of COO. Jay, who started within Mergers & Acquisitions and has a wealth of property experience working for a Private Equity Real Estate Fund as well as running our own property development company oversees all the commercial, financial, technology and maintenance aspects. We are also supported by wonderful care home managers who lead the care side.
Having purchased our first care home, we had a baptism of fire as nearly immediately the manager left without notice. We had never worked in social care before, so we practically moved into the home to learn every aspect of the business directly from our staff, residents, and stakeholders in the home, which was the best training we could have ever had. We worked collaboratively with staff to evolve their roles and motivate them to share the Group’s values of Privacy, Dignity, Respect, Integrity, Trust, Empathy, and Kindness and to hear from the residents what they expected and needed from us to be satisfied. Through this first-hand experience, we recognise the challenges in the sector and cannot thank care professionals enough for their immense hard work. With this experience, we have also learned to make decisions with our teams rather than simply for our teams as without their buy-in, very little would be achieved.
As we came from high tech sectors, it was essential for us to both digitise and successfully work remotely. We have always had simple to use one touch scanners to back up evidence for regulators, video calls for staff training, shared drives to access documents, and processes to monitor and support our team to ensure our residents were getting the correct care. As hands-on Providers, we try and ensure that we are approachable, highly communicative and supportive where needed, be it with: recruitment, maintenance, rota coverage, reviewing audits, invoicing, payroll, dealing with professionals, technology, regulators or working collectively to apply lessons learned to improve processes.
Working in social care during the pandemic caused a lot of pressure on all; hence we decided to widen our own peer support network to leverage ideas from other sector leaders to ensure we were doing all we could for our homes and staff but sharing our views too. With that in mind, we joined the IHSCM’s Social Care Innovators (I am now the co-chair and the co-chair of the People Plan for social care), Championing Social Care, Dementia UK, and we have been invited to speak at a number of industry events including for The Care Show, Skills for Care, Care Workers Charity amongst a few. As vocal advocates for the sector, we actively raise awareness of the incredible work done every day by our team and do what we can to try and improve the sector for them and those that are ultimately at the heart of all this, our residents.