Hiring care staff is something that all care home managers must do on a reasonably regular basis. Therefore, most managers will have built up a decent understanding of what makes someone suitable (or not) for pursuing a career in the care sector. However, care settings undergo changes in management as well as other members of staff. It is therefore just as important to know what makes a good care home manager.
Care home managers are expected to display a well-rounded set of personal traits and skills. Their job is a front-line role with high levels of responsibility and a full set of day-to-day operations and future planning tasks to keep everything on track. It is not a job for the faint-hearted! That said, it brings with it huge rewards and job satisfaction, giving those who take it on the opportunity to make an enormous difference to the people they care for and their loved ones.
So, besides the required qualifications, sufficient number of years’ experience, glowing references etc., what makes a good care home manager?
Ask any care home manager what their job involves and they will reply ‘multi-tasking’. Managers must handle HR, CQC, compliance, budgets, planning and procurement, as well as liaising with families, supporting residents, interacting with medical professionals and keeping up with the latest updates and thinking in the care arena. All of this requires excellent organisational skills and the ability to juggle several different tasks and priorities at once. Switching from paper-based records to a digital care management system can help enormously with this, providing busy care home managers with a single tool to plan, record, communicate, update and report from.
The nature of care work means that you will come into contact with many different people during the working day. These will range from residents and family members, who might have queries, concerns or simply a desire to talk to someone kind, to nurses needing sign off, advice or support and external suppliers or consultants who also deserve your full attention. Being able to communicate with different people and give them what they need requires strong people skills, diplomacy, agile thinking, confidence and quick decision-making.
Compassion, courage and integrity
Not everyone is cut out for a career in care. For a start, it is vital to be compassionate and to genuinely care about your residents, staff and wider care home community. You are helping people at their most vulnerable and you must remain patient, understanding and respectful of their situation. Likewise, courage is often required, especially when making tough decisions, championing the needs and rights of your residents and teams or relaying difficult news. Showing integrity is also essential, as this will lead your decisions and help you demonstrate authenticity and a moral, dignified approach to your work.
Strong sector knowledge and willingness to learn
Clearly, a care home manager who knows about the issues being faced by their residents can add more value to the role than someone without a broad clinical knowledge. Likewise, being able to understand the background to a situation being presented by one of your nurses or carers about a resident can help you support their thinking or confirm your own preferred solution. Likewise, the care sector moves rapidly at times, so being willing and keen to keep up with updates and learn about new ideas, approaches and medical or social healthcare advancements is a major plus when it comes to what makes a good care home manager. In this vein, the ability to keep up with IT developments, digital care home software solutions etc. is also a huge advantage.
Resilience and fortitude
Finally, as already stated, being a care home manager is not a job to be taken lightly. There will be times when you will need to go into battle for your residents and staff and you will need to gather all your strength and fortitude to do so. Happily, there are many things you can do to help with this. Surrounding yourself with competent, proactive and intelligent staff will give you reassuring support, valuable resources and crucial shared knowledge. Using a digital care management system to record all interactions with residents, as well as medical treatments, medication and specialists’ notes will also provide you with written evidence and reminders around the actions taken to reach the best possible decisions for those in your care.