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The Modern Day Care Manager

1st March 2017

Our Director of Training Services, Paul Blane explores what’s needed from a modern day care manager and why it’s time to invest in them and in turn invest in your business.

What does the modern care manager look like? It’s a question that many operators seek to answer because, if you have the wrong type, then your business will deliver the wrong outcome. Too often our care manager is not ‘modern’ at all; yes they are loyal, caring, committed to working long hours and a real ‘hands-on’ person, but are these really the ingredients needed in a modernised care world?

There is no doubt that there are years of management experience within the industry. In my time, I have encountered many managers who remember the days of local authorities being the inspection body, the birth of the National Minimum Standards, the Health and Social Care Act and Care Quality Commission. Indeed, I have concluded that these people have been there and done it, by rising through the ranks.

We need problem solvers
Whilst the experience is great, it is not the answer. The answer lies in the attitude and that is where we must really turn our attention. Managers must embrace the changing times that the modern world has brought us. They can’t afford to continue with the same old statements – ‘there is no time’, ‘we are under-staffed’, ‘I tried to recruit but no-one wants a job’, ‘it’s because of the pay’.  Simply, managers must become the problem solvers.

It is important to realise that, if the above statements are the opinion of the manager, what message does that deliver to the care team? Are they the ones who accepted low pay when the rest of the country would not, should there be more staff to help, is there no time to do all the jobs, so why bother? All of these are negative and negativity breeds negativity.

Money isn’t everything
Although the analogy is a little old now given their current performance, but Leicester City won the Premiership Football League last season with an overall weekly salary bill equivalent to the salary of just three of Manchester United’s players. 

Do you think they did that by believing that other clubs had better players, were paid more money and had better facilities? No. They believed that they had the best team of players, the best fans, the best stadium and they set their sights high: to win the Premiership. That was the goal of the manager and his job was to instil a belief that made the players determined to achieve; in other words, he believed that positivity bred positivity. 

Flipping this back to Manchester United, who did not win the league, what did they do? The answer is that they had to reflect at the end of the season. They realised that they had listened to negative statements from individual players declaring that the team was not good enough to win the league. They saw a fantastic stadium half empty, fans who did not believe and a manager publicly stating that people had to realise that Manchester United was not the team they once were. 

Ultimately, they came to the conclusion that every part of their business plan would be jeopardised if they did not dismiss the manager and bring in someone who could bring back belief and achievement. 
You may think that your care operation is a million miles from the worlds of Manchester United and Leicester, but is it really? Leicester, at odds of 500-1, wanted to win the Premiership; I wonder what odds you would give for your organisation to achieve ‘Outstanding’ in your CQC inspection report 12 months from now. Then ask yourself: would I place a bet? If not, then why not? You’re now reflecting, which is exactly what Manchester United did.

Achieving your potential
Before you go dismissing your care manager, it is important to realise that it is often the case that they are good enough, but it is lack of investment by the operator that means they do not achieve their potential. How can a manager possibly know how to achieve ‘Outstanding’ if they have never been shown what it looks like? How can they achieve ‘Outstanding’ if they do not have a plan in place to do so? It’s a simple question and one you should ask yourself and your care manager. If they, or you, cannot produce a plan immediately, then you are not ready to achieve. Take the time to read an ‘Outstanding’ report and then compare it to yours.

It is essential that we begin to equip managers with the skills and tools to plan the future and ensure that the whole team believes in that future and know what success looks like. The Registered Manager’s Award is not adequate as investment. Managers need meaningful support and mentoring, supervisions and appraisals; they need management training. If they are the lead that the team must follow, then let’s make sure they are going the correct way.
  
The most critical part of your business plan is your care manager, yet it is the area we tend to invest in least. The modern manager must understand the importance of the CQC Report and how it can affect the business plan and the business. Currently, anecdotal evidence is highlighting that banks want to do business with providers that are ‘Good’ in four of the five areas CQC inspects. Insurance companies are said to be charging higher premiums to businesses who ‘Require Improvement’ and, in some cases, have refused to insure those who are ‘Inadequate’.  We have seen an increase in local newspaper and social media articles highlighting operators who receive less than ‘Good’; these are causing negative stories within your local communities, right from where you are trying to recruit your staff.

Leadership
Within the CQC’s The State of Health Care and Adult Social Care 2015/16 report, the word ‘Leadership’ is used 71 times. This is no coincidence. Leaders that deliver ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ services have better staff retention, higher occupancy and better opportunity for growth than those who receive ‘Requires Improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’. It is because of this that our managers must make time to get this right. Your internal inspection should start today.
 
Are you ‘Safe’, ‘Effective’, ‘Responsive’, ‘Caring’ and ‘Well-Led’? Why wait for the inspector to tell you when you can seek to find the evidence yourself? It’s all about the big data, finding out the information that allows you to make informed decisions. Are you compliant with your staff training needs? Can you send instant information to the team? Do staff have access to information around the clock, bearing in mind we deliver 24-hour care? Are your clients happy? How do you know? Is your team competent to carry out their roles? Where is the evidence? There are so many questions to ask, but without the answers you will continue to do what you did yesterday, and the day before.  The modern day manager must plan for the future, not the past.

Achieve great things
Our care managers should realise their potential. In a world where big care businesses crave ‘Outstanding’, what price is put on the manager who achieves this? The world of care management is similar to any other market, if the manager wants to achieve great things they will make it work; if they don’t, then they won’t. 

What they are deciding is your future; you might want to discover what they have planned.

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