Posted: 15 September 2020
Project Manager Oliver French has been working closely with our registered manager networks since lockdown began and reflects on their outstanding contribution as our sector fights the pandemic.
Much of the recent media coverage adult social care has received rightly focused on the incredible efforts and achievements of our sector in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff collectively, and individually,have been singled out for long overdue praise, with moving examples of courage, resilience and passion right across the sector.
For those of us who work in or with the sector this isn’t news. Rather it is a belated recognition of the compassion and motivation that has seen staff and services ‘going the extra mile’ for years.
At the heart of all those services have been their registered managers. If anyone was in doubt as to the remarkable work that these managers do, consider that even before COVID managers were balancing the competing demands of managing a service, running a business and (in many cases) still directly delivering care.
In a role characterised by change and pressure, the dedication and impact of these managers can be seen in everyday stories from the frontline, as well as the direct correlation between success against Well-led at inspection, and then achieving a good or outstanding rating.
Lockdown has brought yet another challenge to our registered managers and we’ve heard accounts of managers (and their teams) moving into services to better protect residents. Managers have worked with other services to help people in need of care and support connect virtually and reduce the negative impacts of isolation. New and different ways of delivering activities have been found - shops, cafes and restaurants have been created on sites to replace day-to-day interactions lost to locked down service users.
At the same time, we know that managers have worked tirelessly to manage infection control, organise teams, source PPE and coordinate testing; always balancing people’s quality of care with the very real pressures of keeping them safe.
But all those managers would be the first to acknowledge they don’t do it alone. which is why they have also been working hard to support their teams.
On our Facebook group for managers we’ve seen examples including working with a local printer to produce car stickers for care workers, or the creation of bespoke thank you packages for staff so managers can thank their teams. We’ve heard managers praise the work of their staff and reflect on how during the crisis they have grown closer.
More quietly, we’ve also heard those stories of managers providing emotional support, encouraging staff to access professional support to manage grief or anxiety, and the determination of managers to continue to lead by example.
At Skills for Care we have also been privileged to see how despite all the pressures managers have come together to offer vital peer-to-peer support to each other. Our virtual networks, WhatsApp groups and Facebook group are safe spaces for managers to connect and be open with each other, support each other’s challenges, as well as building and sustaining a positive collective identity.
Even before the pandemic professional isolation was common for managers; they are busy and the majority are responsible for a single service at a single site. The connections between managers were important then, and they are even more so now. On a very practical level these connections across services are a source of comfort, practical advice, ideas and templates, as well as supporting personal and professional resilience.
At a time of crisis it is testament to our manager’s commitment to their profession, and to their colleagues, that they continue to find the time to support, reassure and inform one another.
Just as we should recognise that the remarkable work we are seeing now is characteristic of manager’s care and dedication throughout their careers, we must ensure that we continue to recognise it in the future. With or without COVID-19 this passion will remain.
On behalf of everyone Skills for Care I would just like to thank managers across England for the remarkable work you have done, you are doing, and we know you will continue to do after this crisis finally passes.