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Double hat-trick for Colchester-based Care UK as top sector leaders are announced

August 15 2018


Care UK colleagues from deputy manager to managing director have been named as six of the country’s leaders in care – in a list containing only fifty people.

Each year Care Home Professional magazine runs an annual campaign to find the 50 best leaders in the care sector.  The leaders are selected not just for their role but for their commitment, positivity, expertise and attitude.  Their 2018 list includes some well-known names such as CEOs of big care providers and chief CQC inspector Andrea Sutcliffe so Care UK teams were astonished but proud to find that six of their colleagues are among this list of 50 people selected by this prestigious magazine.

Care UK’s six inspirational leaders on Care Home Professional magazine’s list are:

Andrew Knight – Managing Director

Under his leadership, Care UK is continuing to drive what is believed to be the UK’s largest care home development programme, with 36 new homes opened since his appointment five years ago. A further 11 homes with more than 720 places are due to open in the next 12 months. In the last three years alone, these new homes have created more than 2,000 new jobs. At the same time, care quality has increased: Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection ratings continue to improve, with 85 per cent of homes currently rated as good or outstanding. A recent survey showed this is reflected in what customers think of Care UK, with 80 per cent now very or completely satisfied - up two per cent on last year.

Rachel Gilbert - Director of Care, Quality and Governance

Rachel is a registered nurse with more than 30 years’ experience in the care sector. Since taking up her current post in 2016, Rachel has been a key player in Care UK’s journey to hold the top ranking for quality in a league table of CQC ratings for the five largest care home providers in England. She oversaw the implementation of an award-winning partnership with Suffolk County Council to deliver 10 brand new care homes before taking up her current role. Rachel is the driving force behind a ‘good to great’ project which fosters a culture of continuous improvement across all Care UK homes. A partnership with the University of Worcester to deliver improvements in dementia care has been a huge success, with extensive training at all levels of the organisation and dementia champions appointed and trained in a large number of homes.

Richard Pearman - Property Services Director

During the last five years Richard has been responsible for delivering the largest new build programme in the care home sector.  He leads a team that has opened 36 new homes, creating 2,670 new care home places since 2013, and is on track to deliver a further 19 new homes by the end of 2020.  Once opened, these homes will add an extra 1,300 places to Care UK’s 7,400 strong inventory.

He played a key role in devising and delivering the company’s ground-breaking partnership with Suffolk County Council (SCC), taking on 16 largely obsolete homes and day centres and investing £80m to replace them with 10 purpose-built facilities.  Richard also leads Care UK’s commercial contract team, which continues to secure new partnerships with the NHS and local authorities across the country.

Jon Bicknell - Food and Services Director

Since joining Care UK, Jon has revolutionised mealtimes in care homes across the country, turning the concept of Dignity in Dining into a reality for all, whatever their support or nutritional needs. He has overhauled recipes and food presentation, promoted fresh produce and introduced new crockery and cutlery. Training innovations have been a priority: 500 team members have been trained this year, with support from dementia experts at the University of Worcester, and all head chefs have been trained in modified diets. Working with suppliers, Jon has devised and delivered skills-based courses on baking, working with chocolate, meat and seafood, flavour layering and supporting residents with allergies. Keen to support those caring for loved ones in the community, Jon has led the creation of a website packed full of his team’s recipes, each one marked by diet and allergy suitability. Not only is this a remarkable resource for the homes, but it also helps those caring for a loved one to ensure they are eating safely and nutritiously - a true innovation in care support.

Saad Baig - Home Manager

Saad Baig may be only 26, but he is already a home manager (Care UK’s youngest) and aims to be the company’s youngest regional director before he is 32. From his first experience at the age of 15, caring for his father who lived with dementia, to his current position as manager of The Burroughs, he knows that care is where his heart lies. His focus is on making a difference to residents’ lives.  When he was home manager at Whitby Dene he helped one resident receive a blessing from the Pope at the Vatican, another to fly an aircraft for one last time and another go to Legoland to experience the thrills of the rides. Having achieved his NVQ Levels 2 and 3, he is now working towards Level 5. His first CQC report as home manager included one ‘outstanding’ theme: the inspectors rated the home as ‘exceptionally responsive’, reporting that residents were ‘cared for and supported in an exceptionally person-centred way which took account of their individual preferences and wishes. Saad will shortly take the helm as leader of the team opening a brand-new care home in Windsor.

Dorota Woloszyn - Deputy Manager at Skylark House

Dora, who is driven by her passion to provide excellent care and develop teams who can deliver it, is about to begin Care UK’s Emerging Leadership programme, having been recommended by her Regional Director. She works tirelessly to ensure residents, particularly those who have lost their ability to communicate, have their voices heard. In her role as Dementia Champion, she is currently developing ways to ensure those who cannot leave their beds can still play an active part in the life of the home. Ever aware of the need to keep residents safe and supported, Dora devised and created Grab and Go folders, which contain all the details of their medications and timings, allergies, relative’s details, care summaries and much more. This evolved after emergency admissions caused hospitals to ask for information repeatedly, while a lack of understanding about the patient caused distress to those living with dementia.

Dora and Saad have been selected under the leaders of tomorrow category, Richard under the operations and development section, Jon for innovation in care, Rachel for care quality and compliance and Andrew is in the executive manager category.

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