Let’s keep talking about wellbeing

Oliver
French, Project Manager for Employer Engagement at Skills for Care, talks about
the importance of supporting the wellbeing of our sector’s managers.

Over the last 12 months, Skills for Care has talked a lot
about the wellbeing for registered managers. It’s a theme that underpins much
of what we do as a membership organisation and our support for local networks
for managers across England.

Much of our recent work in this area started from two clear
ideas:

  • the
    time and support that managers need to do their jobs well must never be ‘nice
    to haves’
  • that
    registered managers are skilled, committed professionals who excel at looking
    after others, but that in turn looking after themselves is often at the bottom
    of their lists.

Research we published last year added to that picture,
offering further confirmation (as if any was needed) that being a registered
manager can be an exceptionally rewarding, but challenging role.

The registered manager role is one characterised by change;
an overwhelming number of respondents reporting that their role was more varied
(71%) but also more pressured (83%).

Those same managers (87%) reported spending time across a
multitude of tasks. Yet these statistics only show one side of the story. One respondent
put it best when they said:

This hard work and dedication comes with great rewards, a sense of
pride in your home and your team and a feeling of self-satisfaction seeing
residents being cared for and happy.

The
five ways to wellbeing

When we prepared our registered manager membership resource,
‘Wellbeing for registered managers’, we looked for a clear evidence base for
our recommendations. The five ways to wellbeing, identified by the New
Economics Foundation provided just that.

Wellbeing is both a personal and professional concern. So,
whilst our influence over someone’s personal life is limited, we must think
about how we can support registered managers to give all five ways to wellbeing
the attention they deserve in their professional lives.  

1.   
Connect

Access to peer networks is
crucial. Managers regularly tell us about the benefits of spending time with their
peers; confidence and reassurance are words that we hear a lot. The majority of
managers are responsible for a single service at a single site. No wonder then
that unchecked, professional isolation is common. Managers must be supported to
take these opportunities.

And when managers really cannot step out of a service, look
for virtual networks. Our members have access to a dedicated Facebook group and
it offers the sharing of knowledge and support, often between managers who have
never met face-to-face, is impressive to see.

2.   
Be
active

This might sound like a hard sell to many busy managers,
but let’s take the time to recognise the difference between being busy and
being active.

Time and creativity are key here, as are two fundamentals to
making most lifestyle changes: keep them small and make them one at a time.
Getting off the bus one stop earlier or changing how you commute one day a week
is very do-able for most of us; signing up for a marathon can wait.

Similarly bike to work schemes, walking challenges or even
‘walking meetings’ are common and cost-effective ways of supporting people to
be more active.

3.   
Take
notice

Of all of the five ways to wellbeing this is the most
multi-faceted. So, we’ll keep our advice on this one brief. We must notice our
managers.

As the membership organisation for registered managers in
England we want to raise the profile of the registered manager role and grow
the recognition of its importance and complexity.

Put another way: we believe that when you tell someone you’re
a registered manager, they should know what that means – in the same way that
people recognise regulated roles like social worker, occupational therapist or
nurse.

This is something every manager, employer and stakeholder
should be striving to achieve.

4.   
Keep
learning

Registered managers excel at this…our call here is a simple
one. Learning must be about more than keeping-up with the latest changes from
the CQC or the introduction of the Liberty Protection Safeguards (not small
undertakings I grant you). Learning must also be about developing ourselves or
pursuing a passion.

5.   
Give

Registered managers are always giving, to people who use
services, to staff and often (on the evidence of our networks) to other
managers. Whilst we champion the role of registered managers let’s remember to
remind our colleagues what they already do. The exceptional is often business
as usual in our sector.

Final
thoughts…

These suggestions themselves won’t relieve the pressure on
managers. The support of employers and staff remain key, not forgetting that
wellbeing is also something deeply personal. None-the-less, they’re part of the
solution and a reminder to look after our registered managers.

Links

  • Registered
    managers can find their nearest face-to-face network here;
    these networks are chaired by registered managers for registered managers so
    the agenda is always relevant.
  • Skills
    for Care’s support for registered managers, including membership, is detailed here.
  • You
    can find out more about the New Economics Foundation here.

Published by Residential Forum

The Residential Forum is to promote the achievement of high standards of care and support for children and adults living in residential care and nursing homes, supported housing, residential schools and colleges, hospices and hostels. It contributes to improving the quality of service to the public. Members of the Forum are people of standing and experience drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as some who can speak for service users and carers.

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