At the heart of every outstanding service is a manager working hard to ensure that they can create a person-centred culture that delivers great, high-quality care.
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has hit our sector hard, but despite this we’ve seen managers continue to put others first and hold services together. They have worked tirelessly to keep their staff and the people they support as safe and well as possible.
Ronnie Lillywhite, who manages a supported living service, has focused on being responsive to change over the last year.
“I don’t think any of us in social care have ever lived through anything like this,” reflects Ronnie on managing services during a pandemic. “It’s really hard to stay focused. I’m not going to lie, business as usual is really hard to maintain at the moment.
“For me it’s about rechecking my priorities and accepting that they are going to change on a daily basis, and not getting so caught up my to do list but learning to drop it if my team need me.
“I’ve had to just accept I can’t achieve what I used to achieve. So, strategies that I’ve put in place are reducing my to do list. I do it in tiny chunks now. I don’t set myself such a big task and that’s something that’s been really helpful lately.
And Ronnie says support from other managers has been critical throughout the pandemic.
“The managers in my locality have a Thursday night catch up every week which you can drop in and out of. Sometimes it’s a workie call, ‘have you seen the latest form on this?’ and other times it’s just a let our hair down.
“We’ll laugh, last week we cried because unfortunately we’d had a really tough week in one of our services, but we’re there for each other and that has given us so much support.
“I would say you’re not in this alone. Whatever you’re feeling, so are all your peers. Lean on each other. You get to hear the great things that are going on as well. Because pandemic or not, the great things are still out there, and great things are still happening in our services.”
Connecting with other managers and seeking support from peers helps managers look after their own wellbeing. As one registered manager told us: “to have enough energy for everyone else you have to look after yourself.”
Registered Manager of Auburn Mere Care Home in Watford, Marlene Kelly, is a chair of a registered manager network in her local area.
“I can remember when I started my job and I didn’t know another registered manager. It was really isolating.
“Registered managers really understand how other registered managers feel, more than anybody else. When you sit with somebody who goes through the same experiences and face the same challenges, there’s this real understanding of each other.
“For the network I chair we try to be really open and honest with each other so that it saves time and makes you more efficient and is a kinder way of working. We’ve tried to create a little community where we can share information.”
Hearing from other managers in the same role and who face similar challenges has proved incredibly powerful over the last year. Skills for Care has recently launched a new podcast series ‘The care exchange’ to celebrate the role of managers in social care. It provides a safe space where managers can listen to other managers, feel less isolated and pick-up some good ideas to support them in their own role.
Skills for Care aims to provide as much dedicated support and information for registered managers and front-line managers as we can. All their available support can be found at www.skillsforcare.org.uk/registeredmanagers, including details of over 150 local networks across England.