Ever since the arrival of COVID-19, the care sector has taken a far more prominent place on the global news agenda. The world has witnessed the array of positive personality traits and skills needed to care for people when they are at their most vulnerable. It certainly takes a very special kind of person to take on such a responsible task.
Registered care managers work in a variety of care settings. These include elderly and residential care homes, children’s homes, hospices and supported housing. They are normally responsible for overseeing all daily operations, forward planning, budget control, staffing, inspection preparations and safeguarding. They must ensure that the care provided by themselves and their teams meets (and preferably exceeds) national and industry high quality standards. The care sector is regulated in England by the Care Quality Commission.
Care Management Personality Traits
As with any job working closely with people, a combination of the right personality traits and well-honed skills are necessary to do a good job. A care manager must be patient and compassionate and able to act as an advocate for those they are looking after. They must be a strong leader, willing to learn new skills and ideas and happy to roll their sleeves up and get stuck into what can be a very busy day to day working environment.
Care managers must be flexible too, as working hours and shift patterns can vary from week to week. Different residents may require different approaches to their care and support. Other key personality traits include the ability to respect people from different backgrounds, discretion, integrity, imagination and courage.
In addition to all of these important characteristics, there are a number of practical skills that care managers should possess and build on to provide top quality, person-centred care. Many of these are common to many jobs and roles within the care sector, amongst others. However, the intimate nature of care work means that they are especially relevant to care managers and those working in nursing or social care.
Care Management Skills
1· Caring Expertise
This may seem like an obvious skill to possess, but it is worth putting at the top of the list, nonetheless. Even if a care manager is no longer providing hands-on care on a regular basis, the more they know and understand about the roles and responsibilities of their staff, the better they can support them and ensure that their residents are receiving the very best levels of care. This also helps care managers liaise more effectively with hospitals, doctors and emergency services when required.
2· Communication Skills
Effective communications skills are vital for a care manager. The role will involve a lot of liaising with staff including care assistant, care coordinator and deputy care manager, residents, families and industry professionals. Sharing information, asking questions, giving instructions, smoothing over conflicts and offering reassurance can all be large parts of a care manager’s day. Both written and spoken communications should be clear, appropriately worded and adapted to the relevant audiences. Knowing how to deliver both good and bad news is also key for communicating with staff, residents and their families.
3· Organisation And a Flair For Admin
A large part of a care manager’s role is tied up in admin. Writing reports, updating records, handling comments and complaints, staff rotas and appraisals and regulatory paperwork. Knowing how to manage time properly so this doesn’t overwhelm the caring aspects of the role is vital.
Having an organised approach and eye for detail will help keep errors to a minimum too. There may be some travel required, so being able to schedule travel times and appointments effectively is key to the role as well.
4· Working under pressure
The nature of the role means that there can be a lot of working under pressure involved. Especially in medical emergencies, inspections and dealing with complaints. Hours can be long and shifts are extremely busy. Managing budgets and staff rotas brings its own pressures too. Good quality care management software can ease some of the administrative burden and help with problem solving. Finally, helping team members cope with their own pressure levels is important too, directing them to resources to support their mental health and safeguard their own wellbeing.
5· Staff Management And Support
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Local Government Association and the NHS issued joint guidance for care managers and organisations on how to support frontline care staff during highly stressful working conditions. A good care manager should know how to support staff to enable them to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. They should be able to spot problems and know how to talk to staff to help them acknowledge concerns and seek help. On the other side of things, care managers must be able to recognise instances of excellent work from their teams and to praise, celebrate and reward these appropriately.