What makes a good home care manager

Home care in the UK employs over 10,000 Registered Managers. Sector Recruitment expert Neil Eastwood considers what characteristics are required to make the role a success.

The role of a Registered Manager within social care is challenging, and is imperative to creating an outstanding care home. The often competing pressures of delivering high quality care (as well demonstrating that to the Care Quality Commission) and inspiring a low paid workforce. There is also the tasks of keeping a variety of stakeholders happy, returning a surplus or profit and recruiting, retaining staff.

I would argue it is made harder still in a home care setting because your staff are mostly lone-working in the community. This means scheduling and motivating them is all the more difficult. The service is also much more exposed to factors outside your control such as transport difficulties, adverse weather and more.

So home care Registered Managers are a pretty special bunch. I have personally met over 1,000 of them. Many more have had their personality traits mapped for our psychometric screening tool, PeopleClues. So what makes a great home care manager?

Demographically we know that the vast majority, almost 85%, are female and about 65% are aged 45 or over. In my experience age and gender has little bearing at all on success. Rather it is motivation and personality that plays a key role in determining what makes a good manager in home care.

Motivation

Polls of Registered Managers have identified that over 90% cite ‘meeting the needs of their clients’ as their core motivation. This desire to help others above, say, a financial motivation for working in the sector, is essential. Without this desire, it is very difficult to maintain a quality social care system. We also know that secondary motivations include professional accomplishment and a duty to wider society.

Personality

A range of personality types can be successful in the role and each setting may have specific demands. However, we know from exhaustive research that a pattern of preferred traits is commonly associated with success. These include:

  • Someone who is detail-oriented but able to handle frequent interruptions and react quickly to situations during the day
  • Tough-mindedness. Comfortable handling conflict and a determination to succeed
  • Being able to maintain consistent standards and ensure rules and procedures are followed, but also to be open to change, for example, by embracing new technology
  • Someone who is neither too reserved nor too outgoing. A balance between wanting to talk and listening to others is typically a good fit for most care management positions
  • Stability. Although the role attracts those with a heightened sensitivity to others, this creates the risk of stress and burnout. Good managers will recognise this and work smart and encourage others to do the same. Frontline care staff are also at high risk of stress as they typically put the needs of others before their own health and well-being. Fortunately technology can help maintain a work-life balance by handling repetitive and time-consuming tasks.
  • Team work. We need Registered Managers to be more collaborative and win-win than might be the case in the profile of a successful non-care sector management role. This is because if we have recruited well, we should have a team of relationship-centric and caring staff, rather than the more individualistic and competitive personality profiles in many other sectors. We found time and time again that those prospective managers who prioritised self over others were either not hired or did not stay long in the role.

Summary

So there are key characteristics we can identify that help us know how well a person can cope with the pressures of such a high profile local leadership role. Knowing this and supporting managers with advice and technology to maximise both their quality time with frontline staff and maintain a sensible work-life balance will be critical to delivering the highest quality home care services.

Neil Eastwood is founder of Sticky People, provider of PeopleClues candidate screening technology. He is an international speaker on care worker recruitment and retention. http://stickypeople.co.uk