This is my first role in social care, although I was previously a non-executive for an NHS trust for nearly 3 years. I have been in my current role for over 7 years and can say that every day really has been a learning day and I hope it continues to be so.
I joined Care UK in February 2014. As CEO of Care UK, I provide the leadership to help the business to grow its reputation of high-quality residential care, and to create an environment where our people can deliver the best possible care to home residents.
Day to day my quality-related tasks might include sitting with the Quality and Governance team to discuss what dementia care means; I might be visiting homes and speaking to residents, relatives and colleagues; I might be looking over governance reports or discussing with teams how we can improve and innovate the care and service that we provide. And of course, there are frequent liaison meetings to attend with regulators and committees of local authority customers.
It’s got to be ensuring their safety and dignity. That sounds simple but safety alone covers a huge range of areas, from ensuring that a resident receives the right type and level of care, to being given the correct dose of medication, to ensuring that they’re protected from things like fire – or, as we have seen very recently, a global pandemic.
I think the best care is person-centred care, which is entirely tailored to the needs and wishes of the individual. With over 6,500 residents, delivering quality care is no small challenge! It’s also important to take a step back and remind ourselves that our care homes are our residents’ homes. High quality care can mean honouring a resident’s wish to get up late, to decorate their room in a certain way, or to enjoy their favourite food or hobbies on a regular basis.
Excellent colleagues are the biggest driver to improving care. Our challenge is recruiting people who have a deeply caring attitude and then helping them to develop their skills and providing an environment where they can thrive. Robust processes, checks and balances are all vital to ensure that we learn from good and bad experience, and we continuously improve, but ultimately it’s about people.
Again, it’s the people who deliver that experience to residents who are most important, and I believe that home managers are key to that. We’re developing a network of increased support around home managers to reflect that, as the home manager’s role is becoming increasingly difficult. They’re supported by regional directors who are there to develop, advise and support. What’s more, our regional directors work alongside our care quality and governance team to help continually improve the quality of care we provide. In Care UK we are lucky enough to have a range of specialists within our support teams whose role it is to support our homes to enable them to deliver high quality care to our residents.