Community Support Manager

Meet Laura, Community Support Manager from Cumbria.  Laura joined the company as a Support Worker in July 2015. She tells us why she applied for the role and how she moved from the Support Worker role to her current role.

What did you do before you joined Gray Healthcare?

‘From as long as I can remember I have always wanted to work with people with mental health conditions.  This stems from witnessing a family member struggle with anxiety for many years and I have always wanted to understand why he behaved as he did.  When I left school, I started my mental health nurse training but, for personal reasons, I wasn’t able to complete my course, so I looked for other roles within mental health.  Since the age of 18 I have had several roles working with vulnerable adults: I worked in a supported living service, with a mental health community health crisis team and on a psychiatric ward. I found the Support Worker job at Gray Healthcare online and I applied because, at the time, my daughter was very young, and I needed something part-time rather than full-time. The interview was really laid back and the person interviewing me was very kind and encouraging – it gave me a very positive impression of the company, so when I was offered the position I accepted!  Within three months I was put forward to the Community Support Manager role and until May 2018 I was managing nine packages of care in Cumbria. This role was then changed to a Team Leader role.’    

Can you tell us about your Community Support Manager role?

‘I really enjoy my role as Community Support Manager role!  I am still able to work on shift providing hands-on support to the person I support, which I love, but with some managerial responsibilities thrown in.  Whilst I attend team meetings, undertake audits, appraisals and supervisions and make sure rotas are covered, the most important part of my role is to make sure my staff team are well supported at all times and that they have enough ‘downtime’.  Working with the client group we do can be challenging at times so taking care of our staff’s mental health is a ‘must’.  To achieve balance between our home lives and work lives, my staff team work together to plan our rotas and to cover each other for annual leave.  Planning our rotas together was a decision made by everyone in our team and we have found that there is low sickness in our team as a result.  It is also better for the person we support as we plan in some ‘block’ shifts – he enjoys being able to spend some quality time with each of us.

What’s the best thing about working at Gray Healthcare?

‘For me the best thing about working at Gray Healthcare is the camaraderie you build with both the person you support and with your team – you feel you are part of a family.  Everyone working in my team always puts the person we support first, we all want this person to have the best life possible.  We all share the same goals for the person we support and, as a team, we have the flexibility to try new ways of working, to question what we could be doing better and to make the changes we feel we need to help the person we support move forward in his life.’

What, if anything, do you find challenging about your role?

‘Because we also work on shift, keeping on top of the paperwork can be quite challenging but that’s all really.  In the years I have worked here I can honestly say that I have never had a day when I don’t want to be here. It’s that good!’

Do you feel you are well supported?

‘I am exceptionally close to my line manager, and we support each other through thick and thin.  My team are fantastic – we will cover each other, even at short notice.  I have always felt supported by the wider team. I was encouraged to go for my current role and since being here I have gained my NVQ Level 2 qualification in Team Leading and have completed my Lead Health and Social Care Diploma.  At the moment, I’m just completing my Level 4 in Management.’ 

What is the best thing about your role?

‘It is undoubtedly being close to the gentleman I help support. We are a family!  I love that he can do more things now than he could when he first moved out of hospital and into our care.  When I first met him, he would not shower and was not eating regular meals.  He would not go out at all. Now he takes much better care of himself, and he likes to go out. His favourite activity is to go to football and rugby matches, where he supports his local teams.  You do this job because it is so rewarding!

What advice would you give to someone considering working for Gray Healthcare?

‘I would say ‘go for it’ – I would certainly not have stayed for all these years if I was not happy! No job is ever perfect, but this one is pretty close.  I have not worked for a company like this before – the difference is that values are shared and the standard of care of care is second to none.  We’re in it together!  You will have time to build a proper relationship with the individual you support and to watch them grow and progress.  You will feel valued, cared for and supported by your managers. The amount of free training available for staff is just amazing and far exceeds that of other companies I have worked for. To help me support the individual I care for, I received extra training in Personality Disorder.  The rates of pay are good, and you will be encouraged to progress if this is what you want to do. I love that I am trusted to get on with my job.  I am not micro-managed and it’s lovely to feel you have that level of trust.’ 

Describe Gray Healthcare in three words...

Compassionate, unique, progressive