Meet Zara, Community Support Manager, in Shropshire, who joined Gray Healthcare in September 2021. Zara shares her early impressions of Gray Healthcare and explains the Community Support Manager role.
What did you do before you joined Gray Healthcare?
‘I have worked with people with mental health conditions for over 10 years now. I’ve always been interested in mental health and I knew wanted to pursue a career in this field from an early age. In my last role, I was the manager of an Independent Living facility which accommodated 14 people with mental health conditions and whilst I loved this role, I had worked there for a long time, so I felt ready for a new challenge.
I found the advert for the role at Gray Healthcare online and it just sounded so interesting. Whilst I have worked with adults with various mental health conditions over the years, I have not had much experience working with adults with learning disabilities so I was keen to learn more about working with this client group to extend my knowledge and skills.’
Can you tell us about the role of Community Support Manager?
‘In my role as Community Support Manager, I provide support to the teams working on shifts in the homes of the individuals we support. At present I am supporting two packages of care in my area but in due course this number is likely to increase. Every morning I make sure that we have enough members of staff available to cover the day’s shifts. If someone has called in ‘sick’ it is my role to ring round and ask another member of staff to cover. If need be, I can step in and cover the shift myself. I work with another Team Manager to plan out the shifts on a weekly basis and we also do payroll together. To make sure that there is a smooth transition for the people we support when they move out of hospital and into their own home, we provide what we call an ‘inreach’ service. Before the individual moves out of hospital, members of our team visit the individual in the hospital where they are currently staying and start to get to know the individual, their likes and dislikes and their aspirations for when they are living in the community. We do this to make sure the individual is comfortable about the move and so that we can build their package of care and staff around their interests and dreams. It is my role to keep in touch with the staff team who are involved in the inreach process to find out how things are progressing and to see if we need to make any adjustments to the care package prior to that individual moving out of hospital. I also keep various records up-to-date and do a weekly audit capturing data such as staff annual leave, sickness and health and safety. For our support staff, when they are working on a one-to-one basis with an individual, it can sometimes feel an isolated role as you are not physically surrounded by a team of colleagues, so for me the most important part of my role is to make sure staff always have someone to talk to and to feel really well supported.’
What’s the best thing about working at Gray Healthcare?
‘For me the best thing about working at Gray Healthcare is the two-way support. The Gray Healthcare model of care is such that you have the chance to just focus on one person, that one person is your whole focus. As a result, you get to know that individual really well and learn what their triggers are. It’s the same with our staff team. Working as a Team Manager in a small team, you get to know your colleagues well and, as you know the individual they support as well, you can really tailor the support you provide to your colleagues.'
What, if anything, do you find challenging about your role?
‘Some days can be hard because some of the people we support can be challenging at times. For me a personal challenge was working with an individual with no verbal skills. I learnt Makaton so I could understand his sign language and it was amazing to see how he has progressed and how independent he has become. He’s able to make his own breakfast now and is enjoying getting out and about into the countryside. Our staff team look after him so well and his parents are so grateful.’
Do you feel you are well supported?
‘I feel very well supported in my role. I have an Area Manager and every day I work alongside Brogan, another Team Manager. I have worked with Brogan since day one and I know I can go to her if I have any issues or if there is anything I’m not sure about. With my Area Manager I know I can contact him day or night with an issue and that he will always be there to help and support me.
In my first weeks at Gray Healthcare, I had a comprehensive two-week induction and in addition to the mandatory training you would expect, I also received training in PROACT-SCIPr-UK, a person-centred approach using proactive strategies to support personal development and minimise crisis interventions. I have never been offered this level of training before starting the actual role. This level of training, if offered at all at other places I have worked, was always offered well after the event!’
How has working at Gray Healthcare progressed your career?
‘Even though I haven’t worked at Gray Healthcare for long, I do know that if you wanted to progress your career, you would be encouraged to do so.’
What advice would you give to someone considering working for Gray Healthcare?
‘I would always say "go for it’. I have no regrets whatsoever about joining Gray Healthcare. You receive plenty of support and bespoke training and because you are working with one individual, you get to develop a close bond with them. It’s truly amazing when you see the people we support make progress and gain confidence, some in a relatively short period of time. In my experience, you don’t see this level of progress in other environments.’
Describe Gray Healthcare in three words.
‘In three words I would describe Gray health care as professional, caring and beneficial. The reason why I describe them with these three words is because all Gray healthcare team members have been trained to have a professional attitude with a positive and caring approach which makes it beneficial for newcomers to feel welcomed into the team.’