Rick Smith

Quality and Implementation Lead

Meet Rick Smith, Quality and Implementation Lead at Gray Healthcare. Based in North Lincolnshire, Rick covers the South Central region.  He talks to us about his time at Gray Healthcare, why he enjoys his current role and shares his best ever day out!

What did you do before you joined Gray Healthcare?

‘I have had many different job roles over the years.  In the past I have worked as a horse-riding instructor and also spent time working in a warehouse for a well-known DIY company.  I finally found myself working in finance and procurement for the NHS and part of my role was buying the equipment for the hospital theatre teams.  Somehow, I was fortunate enough to be invited into theatre to watch some of the operative procedures. Because I wanted to find out how the patients were post-surgery, I used to go and visit them in my own time on the wards.  About this time my grandad had a stroke and I used to go and visit him too.  Spending time with grandad and with patients made me realise I wanted to move out of management into a caring role and to be more people-focused rather than office-based.  This is when I joined Gray Healthcare as a Support Worker in 2013.’

Can you tell us about the role of Quality and Implementation Lead?

‘As my job title suggests, there are two elements to my role: quality and implementation. On the quality side, I check compliance, analyse data and review the progress the people we support are making and identify where we need to focus additional support from our internal Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT).  The implementation part of my role involves the project management of any new packages of care.  It is my responsibility to make sure that new care packages are introduced in a safe, effective way and that quality is established right from the start.  Once a new package of care goes ‘live’ and we are supporting a new individual to live in their own home, we always review and reflect on the process and learn from what went well and what didn’t go quite so well.  We use this learning to improve the implementation of future care packages to improve the experience for the individuals we support as well as our colleagues.  It’s important to me that I don’t lose the opportunity to visit the people we support.  I try to visit the people we support and staff teams not only to complete Quality Assurance Audits but to support them and build working relationships throughout.'

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

‘The best thing are the people we support.  Every day is different, and you never know what the day will bring.  In my time at Gray Healthcare I have seen so many people successfully move out of hospital environments to live independently in the community.  There is one gentleman that I still work with the team now.  All his life he had lived in children’s homes and various care homes and he had never managed to live in the community for more than six months.  When he joined us at Gray Healthcare he was in his early 50s and he needed round the clock one-to-one support. Since Gray Healthcare have supported this gentleman since 2013 he has had no further hospital admissions and remained living in his own home in the community.'

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

‘Whilst it’s great that every day is different this can also be a challenge!  You never know if someone will become poorly or if a problem will arise so sometimes it can be hard to plan your day.’

Do you feel you are well supported?

‘In the South region, I feel like we have become a small family. You never feel that you can’t ask for help or support.  We have weekly catch ups and we will always help each other wherever we can.  We work hard to make sure everyone feels supported and Gray Healthcare have invested in the technology to support this.’

How has working at Gray Healthcare progressed your career?

‘I joined Gray Healthcare as a Support Worker and this was great for me at the time as it gave me the opportunity to spend time with my grandad.  Throughout my time here I have been encouraged to take on several different roles and to progress in my career.  I’ve enjoyed all the different roles as none of them have been purely office-based.  I’ve done lots of training during my time here and I’m currently doing my degree Level 5 in Management.  I feel so happy to be working here and I hope that as we continue to grow, I can grow too in my knowledge and learning.’ 

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

‘Do it!  You can’t compare Gray Healthcare to other companies as there are not other companies that do what we do.  It’s very different and, whilst it can be scary working in a house on your own with one individual, once you’ve done it, you’ll never go back!  You are out and about, and you are instrumental in seeing that person progress and grow. Your time is spent focusing on that one individual and not on others, so you build a much stronger therapeutic relationship.’

Describe Gray Healthcare in three words.

'Unique, passionate, person-centred'

Describe your ‘best day’ working at Gray Healthcare.

‘When I was a Support Worker, one day I had to drive to a local hospital to collect a gentleman who I was going to be supporting in his new home. When I arrived at the hospital, I had to reverse the car and park as close to the entrance as possible because this gentleman was so frightened to walk the short distance to the car park. This anxiety was the result of being bullied all his life because of his learning disability.  When we arrived at his new home, again I had to reverse the car and park as close to the front door as possible.  When we arrived at his bungalow he went straight to his bedroom as he didn’t understand that he could use the rest of the house. It was genuinely heartbreaking!

Anyway, my best day has to be the first time I spent a full day out in the community with this particular gentleman.  We set off for the local garden centre, and then from there we travelled to the beach and he saw some donkeys.  This was the first time I realised that he loved animals, so we decided to visit the nearby horse sanctuary and finally to finish the day we popped into a pub for a meal. The day just flew by and we were late back! In the early days, for him to be out of the house for an hour was a big thing, for the whole day was a massive achievement.  When we arrived back, he gently touched my arm and said: ‘thank you’. I still remember this moment now and what an amazing feeling it was.  From that day on we were out all the time!  We’ve been to the zoo, dog kennels, rescue centres, the beach and even seen Coronation Street being filmed!'