Opinion social care

Elevating excellence above profit

Alicia Francois, Specialist Services Director, SweetTree Home Care Services

Alicia Francois, finalist in last year’s Women Achieving Greatness in Social Care Awards, is Specialist Director  at SweetTree Home Care Services.  Here, Alica explains how her compassionate approach to leadership empowers others to find their voice.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation, maybe in a meeting, or at a conference and things just seem to lack a certain clarity? It’s not that you don’t grasp the discussion—it’s just that you sense there’s a straightforward solution staring everyone in the face, yet you hesitate to voice it.

Ever ask yourself why? After all, how could your answer be the one that no one else can see?  And when you do summon the courage to share your insight, it almost feels to you as though the explanation is too simplistic, and it may even be dismissed. Was it deemed too basic for consideration? And perhaps the original conversation or issue is pivoted to an entirely different topic altogether.

This was a part of my journey entering the health and social care world. I faced the challenge of finding my voice. I sought inspiration from local women who embodied strength and power, fearlessly speaking out. Their example guided me as I navigated how best to make my own voice heard. Observing and listening intently, I identified the key points I wished to carry forward and frequently pondered how best to assert myself with confidence. Even today, reflection remains a cornerstone of my approach.

In today’s dynamic and challenging climate, the importance of compassionate and creative leadership in social care cannot be overstated. Advocating inclusivity, wanting better and pushing empowerment, is what I have witnessed from female leaders who have effectively transformed change and fostered a compassionate and equitable society. I see more woman at the forefront leading with these initiatives and paving the way. Female leadership in the current climate brings a wealth of qualities and strengths that are essential for navigating the complex challenges faced in social care and other fields.

At SweetTree, my leadership philosophy lies in acknowledging the unique potential of every staff member. My personal journey, transitioning from a frontline care worker to overseeing specialist services, greatly shapes my commitment to encouraging emerging talents and future leaders. I consistently emphasise the significance of mentorship, guidance, and avenues for professional advancement at all career stages. I have always enjoyed listening, coaching, and paving the way for individuals demonstrating exceptional qualities, guiding them towards excellence in the field of care and this remains my focus.

Through identifying service gaps and implementing innovative solutions, we’ve nurtured a team dedicated to delivering the utmost standard of care. Valuing each individual’s skills and knowledge is paramount. Rather than conforming to traditional norms, SweetTree embraces my continuous challenging of conventions, alongside others, pushing boundaries to achieve excellence while upholding a compassionate and empathetic approach.

Among my proudest achievements is the growth and development of our Brain Injury Service. Through tireless dedication and collaboration, we have assisted countless individuals on their journey to independence, to the point where they no longer require our assistance. Each success story is a testament to the unwavering commitment of our team and the transformative impact of personalised care.

Furthermore, my approach to business expansion prioritises quality over profit, sitting with the faith that quality inevitably delivers financial security. We pursue strategic growth strategies that are in alignment with our core values, ensuring that the integrity and quality of our services remain uncompromised, while not always easy has always made me feel right in what I do each day. By embracing this ethos, we not only uphold personalised care standards but also extend our reach to serve a broader demographic in need.

As I look back on my past experiences, I can’t help but recall certain moments that stick with me. They were the starting points of a journey toward change and understanding myself better and understanding what I wanted to do differently. These moments helped me to become confident and allowed me to see that in today’s complex and rapidly changing world, the right leadership in social care is more vital than ever and that we all have a part to play. Those in leadership in my journey have empowered me to stick by my word, to create strong foundations and a structure that works without that amazing person but to have a meaningful and strong culture that thrives throughout all who work within it and to not be afraid to fail.  It is a force for compassion, resilience, and innovation, driving positive change and advocating for those who often go unheard.

So, if you find yourself in that meeting or you encounter those moments of doubt, I would say remember that your voice matters. Trust in your insights, as it could hold the clarity for others. Embrace simplicity, for often the most effective solutions are the ones hiding in plain sight. Let the journey of finding your voice be guided by those who inspire you and fuelled by the courage that you do hold!




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