Lee's career story
We chatted to Lee, branch manager at Help at Home in Leicester, to find out about his career journey and what it is really like to manage a large social care service.
Hi Lee! What inspired you to pursue a career in adult social care?
Two experiences during my childhood inspired me. The first was looking after my mum when I was little. The second was being involved in a road traffic accident where I was hit by a bus age 10 whilst crossing the road. The journey of intense physical and mental recovery shaped the way I thought about care and how it feels to be reliant on others when in fear. It made me realise that people do not choose to be vulnerable. It made me see the importance of the care profession and the huge role that care professionals play in the lives of the people they support.
What was your experience of your first care role like?
At age 16, I became a volunteer at an elderly care hospital. I still remember the lady I assisted each lunch time. She had multiple sclerosis and, whilst still able to swallow, she was not able to cut food or raise cutlery to her mouth. I learnt the importance of understanding the needs and abilities of each individual and of following their pace, rather than mine.
How has your career progressed?
After my voluntary role, I became a paid care assistant and worked in care homes and hospitals. In 1992, I qualified as a registered nurse and worked in medicine, diabetes, elderly care and orthopaedic rehabilitation.
In 1997 I had a career change and became a branch manager in Leicester for a national care provider. Within 6 months I was running the biggest branch in the UK. Inspired by this experience, I set up my first care business in 2003. The business delivered a range of services, including residential and home care. I later sold the business and decided to work as a consultant to help develop other care providers' performance and quality ratings. A recent achievement has been helping an 80 bed nursing home to raise their inspection rating from 'inadequate' to 'good'.
I am now studying a Masters degree in Safeguarding Law at Keele University, alongside my role as branch manager at Help at Home in Leicester.
What does your role as a branch manager involve?
I am responsible for over 500 service users and more than 200 staff. Branch services vary quite a lot, ours is a very big one! My role is about ensuring people are safe, needs are met and that we are compliant with all legal and quality expectations. I am also responsible for reviewing staff and service user feedback and using this information to identify ways we can improve the service.
What is your typical working day like?
I try to get to the gym three times a week and eat sensibly. I think we should look after our own health as a priority! Most of my working days are spent in the office doing phone calls, emails, meetings, audits and planning. However, I also get to go out and spend time with service users and staff. I enjoy being out meeting service users the most because it reminds me of the importance in all things we do, all the tasks are about making them safe and happy.
What is the most challenging thing about working in adult social care?
There are simply not enough hours in the day! However, the positive of this is that days zoom by and its soon time for home!
What has been your proudest career moment?
I looked after a service user in Kent whose needs were very complex. The lady was dependant on others to support all her movement, food and drink intake, and breathing. Her only method of communication was with her eyes. I was very proud of the support plan that I was able to put together as it enabled her to live in her own home and direct her daily life. One of my most memorable achievements was when I came up with the idea to turn a small bedroom window into a glass wall, so she could enjoy her garden. In the end, we exceeded this vision by getting enough funding to install sliding doors to allow her bed to be wheeled into the garden on sunny days. However, the best moment was when I was able to support her to achieve her dream of visiting Blackpool beach. At first, this seemed like an impossible challenge! But we managed it and I will never forget seeing her face when sitting on the beach watching the waves crash on to the sand for the first time.
What is your advice to people considering a career in adult social care?
The challenges can be tough, but you only need one "thank you" from someone you have supported to realise you are in the right job.
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