Karen Seabrook, regional director
How long have you worked in the care sector?
I have worked in the care sector for more than 30 years. I’ve always been interested in caring for people and started work as an auxiliary nurse in a nursing home. I remember starching my hat on a weekly basis always in fear that I’d be told off by matron for not doing it correctly! A lot has changed since those days, thank goodness. I worked as an agency nurse and spent some time as a care assistant in private mental health clinics before deciding to apply for a position as Senior Care officer for the local authority where I developed an interest in management and worked my way up the ladder.
How long have you worked for Care UK and what does your job entail?
I joined care UK as a home manager as part of the transition of seven Surrey County Council homes to Care UK back in 2002. Whilst working for Care UK, I joined the project team for a short while supporting with bids, acquisitions and new builds before applying and successfully becoming a Regional Director in 2006. Surrey is one of the largest Care UK regions and I currently look after 13 homes.
What do you think are the most important aspects of the service Care UK provides to the people you care for?
When caring for people, everything we say and do is extremely important. We need to make sure we take time to listen to our residents and their family and friends, and act on what they tell us. Everyone is unique and the care we provide must be innovative, flexible and truly person centred. That starts with really understanding and knowing the people we care for and what’s important to them and their relatives.
What do you believe high quality care means?
Care and support that is given by kind and caring people who have an empathetic and genuinely compassionate approach in everything they do. For me, high quality care means a positive can-do attitude by all members of the home team working together to improve our residents’ lives whilst supporting their loved ones in what can be, at times, an emotional roller-coaster.
What are the main drivers and innovations behind improving care?
A well-led, energised, knowledgeable and skilled home team who know what is expected of them. Also a leadership style that encourages creative thinking, recognises individual and team achievements and celebrates success. It’s important not only to regularly ask for feedback, but also to actively listen, which we must all find time to do in our busy environments. Also, it’s essential to be transparent on those occasions when things don’t go as planned and ensure that we learn, and continually improve, from such occurrences.
What part of the social care experience do you think is most important?
It’s important that we consistently provide safe care and aspire not only to meet, but exceed, the requirements of the people we care for. Naturally, the views and input of the external regulator are also factors we take extremely seriously and, as an organisation we take great pride in achieving more and more ‘Good’ and ‘Outstanding’ ratings across our estate of homes.
I think the word ‘care’ does not always adequately describe how we try our very best to look after our residents and cater for their needs. In Care UK we are committed to, and passionate about, fulfilling people’s lives. I love hearing the stories, ideas and feedback from residents regarding their experience of their homes’ recent activities or events and I take great pride at the thought that we’re able to help enrich and fulfil our residents lives in this way.