Celebrate Chat Opinion

A national voice for social care, Nadra Ahmed, Chairman, National Care Association

Nadra Ahmed OBE, Chairman, National Care Association

The dynamics of our sector has always been complex, not only in the support we provide but also because its composition is a patchwork of varying sizes of providers covering multiple support options with differing financial drivers. The vast majority of services, around 83%, sit within the small to medium sized provision each being led by entrepreneurs at differing scales.

I was one of those smaller providers leading care services from the early 1980’s to late 90’s, striving to deliver the best care we could with teams who were skilled and passionate about their roles and responsibilities. The key to great delivery will always depend on those who take responsibility for sustainable quality care.

My view has always been that an effective leader learns something new every day whilst inspiring others to do the same. I am inspired every day by the people I come into contact with at every level of my engagement. A leadership role is a privilege which comes with huge responsibility and part of that is to earn the respect of those who work with you. Respect as we know is earned not bought, if bought it doesn’t bring loyalty but if earned it is more likely to.

When I was establishing and running our care services, I was on a steep learning curve as my degree was in education and healthcare was not something I knew anything about. The first 10 beds opened my eyes to a world I submitted to completely. At school I had volunteered to do the shopping for an elderly lady in our street who was in her 80’s and the world she described fascinated me; I went on to read history so I’m guessing that was my first taste of working with older folk with fascinating pasts and lives we often fail to appreciate or imagine. It would be fair to say she inspired me as she talked of her life during the war and her contribution to keeping the country going, learning to drive trucks to transport rations and much more.

My roles in my chosen profession have changed by chance rather than design. I worked with our first team doing every role in the organisation whilst volunteering in a large hospital in the area for adults with varying mental health issues. I learnt a huge amount about the reality of the circumstance’s individuals had been abandoned and how good care impacted on progress and quality of life whilst poor care created distress and regressive behaviours. When the hospital closed, we were able to take individuals who had bonded on their wards into our services and watched our team support them to thrive.

Forty-two years have passed and through the highs and lows I can honestly say I feel truly blessed to have stumbled on a career in social care. I have held my current role for over 20 years as the Chairman of National Care Association. This role portrays me as one of the leaders within the social care sector and conjures up a number of definitions of the role. The reality is that social care is full of leaders, all working in their own way to inspire teams to deliver services to those who need them when they need them. Within those teams are individuals who will learn from and be inspired by those they support.

We know successful businesses in any sector will be built though good leadership as it is the key to successful outcomes. I have never felt comfortable in an office away from my team, so we work an open plan environment with space for all to take calls or hold private meetings, this enables me be part of the amazing team which makes National Care Association what it is today.

The reality is that there have to be leaders to support teams to fulfil their own goal and build ambition. Within team there will be leaders with unique skills which will motivate and inspire their peers to achieve their full potential as their aim to deliver quality services will be the common denominator. Leaders emerge because of their passion for what they do and how that inspires those they work with: they also inspire confidence in those are the beneficiaries of their services, so the value of good leadership is crucial to sustainable success and part of the responsibility is to identify and nurture successors in the interest of the service.


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