Meet Jamie - Head of Quality Assurance and Commissioning
Fun fact about yourself?
I am a huge Spice Girls fan.
What is your role within social care?
Head of Quality Assurance and Commissioning.
What are the main responsibilities of your role?
I am responsible for care quality across 74 locations in the UK. I am also responsible for making sure we commission new services safely and effectively.
What inspired you to start a career in the care sector?
After leaving sixth form and trying a couple of jobs I realised I wanted to do something for people and with people. I knew a nurse who suggested I try being a carer. I found a job in a care home and the rest is history.
Describe 3 of the best things about working in adult social care.
1. It never stops changing.
2. It provides a sense of purpose,
3. You are able to progress into a variety of different roles.
Members of the LGBTQIA+ community face many challenges throughout their lives. How do you feel a career in social care could help to overcome these?
I'd flip this question around and say that facing challenges in your personal life equips you perfectly for a role in social care such as building resilience, working independently and an understanding for people who have struggled in their lives. Sometimes in care you will meet people at some of the most difficult moments in their lives e.g loosing their independence or declining health.
Having the ability to empathise makes a huge difference to people we support. On the flip side, I know that the challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ people in life can sometimes cause issues such as lack of confidence or mental health struggles. The statistics suggest this is the case. I've suffered with this in the past but my career has helped provide a sense of self-worth and confidence that I never knew I had!
What would you say to a someone identifying as LGBTQIA+ considering a career in the care sector, but who may feel hesitant to apply? What encouragement would you offer?
Ive always found the sector very inclusive and is slowly starting to become more diverse. I started my career as an 18 year old young gay man and can honestly say I have never experienced discrimination although I accept that this might have been more luck!
If you want a career where you really can do something that's important and meaningful, then a career in care is for you. Even if you are thinking about it and not sure - give it a go!
The LGBTQIA+ community is under-represented in our sector. Why do you think this could be? Do you think there are any misconceptions of careers in social care that we need to overcome?
There remains a misconception that a career in care is a dead-end job. This really is an outdated view and I am living proof that you can have a successful and long lasting career.
What has been your career path to the position you are in now?
I started working in a care home as a Care Assistant in 2000. The home had a manager who wasn't great and I quickly realised that I wanted to be in a position to create change and ensure the home delivered the best possible care to the residents.
By this time she left I was already a senior carer, the Ops Director visited the home and saw something in me and gave me my first real taste of management and promoted me to deputy manager. It was a challenging home with high-dependency levels but and this was a huge learning curve for me - I was 20!
Fast forward a few years and I ended up managing my own care home as a registered manager. I adored this role but after a while realised I wanted more of a challenge (I get bored quickly) and became a registered manager for a couple of extra care schemes. This was quite different from residential care but I loved learning this different model of care. I also enjoyed working in a large organisation.
I had a fab line manager and she gave me an opportunity to become an Area Coordinator which involves me providing line management and operational support to extra schemes in Staffordshire and Worcestershire. I loved this job and started to think about my long term plan in multi site management. I took the decision that I needed to move organisation as there was a lack of senior management opportunities in the organisation.
I ended up at Housing 21 as an Operations Manager in a role I loved. I've been lucky to have another great manager who has fully encouraged and supported my development. A new role was created as Head of Quality and Commissioning which appealed to me. It was a side step away from managing operations which felt scary but having grass roots experience of care services has truly helped me in this strategic role -you can't make good decisions without understanding the impact on our people (the ones doing the job) or our residents - you can't learn that from a text book. Within all these roles I undertook a variety of qualifications which also helped me a great deal. I've spent many weekends and evenings studying but it all helps to build your competence.
How will you be celebrating pride next week?
I will probably have a little tipple to celebrate.