Tell us where your career in social care began Dan.
Dan: When I joined Endurance Care Kent back in 2016 I was actually working as a sports coach with a degree in sports science. My aim had been to become a P.E. teacher but I gained some experience in care while working in a residential children's home and my ambitions began to change. I discovered how much I liked care and support and applied for my first role as a support worker.
What was your first role at Endurance Care Kent?
Dan: At the time our services were owned by a company called Bayview Care prior to their acquisition by National Care Group. I joined as a support worker and was working with four people in supported living, two of which are still living at one of my services today. They had a mix of support needs including learning disabilities, autism, and mental health diagnosis. I was daunted to begin with but at the same time very passionate about doing a good job and already knew I wanted to progress with my sights set on becoming a team leader.
Tell us what happened next and how your career took off
Dan: I was promoted to team leader in August 2017 at a brand new service that had just been registered. I'd been lined up to take on the service as soon as it opened. I'd been working hard towards the promotion and had also been studying for my Level 5 Health & Social Care Manager qualification in my spare time. This was one of the most important achievements I knew I had to accomplish to line me up for future promotion to become a service manager and hopefully registered manager. Most of the study is 'on the job' work that you're assessed on plus coursework.
Then my next promotion was when I took on another service as team leader in early 2021. It was really quite daunting as it was to manage double the number of team members. I was grateful that the registered manager at the time gave me extra hours for administrative duties to get the workload done, they were very supportive.
I had a development plan in place with my registered manager and was quickly promoted to service manager in June 2021 looking after seven services and 18 people. A huge step up but I really enjoyed the challenge.
Fast-forward to 2023 and your promotion to registered manager. How did that happen?
Dan: Becoming a registered manager of my own services was my ultimate goal. Our current services were growing across a wider geography and in number so National Care Group planned to create a new registration called Deal & Hythe to better focus on those services. As the service manager with established relationships with the teams and the people we support, I was in line to take on the new registration but had to get through my CQC interview to gain my registered title. I'm not going to lie, I was scared to death, but prepared well and got through it and was delighted when I heard I'd been successful about a week later. Being a registered manager is very different to being a service manager, it comes with a lot more responsibility because your name is above the door so to speak. However with the support of my brilliant regional operations manager Tara and all the experience I have gained along the way I feel ready for it and excited about taking it on.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge to date?
Dan: Without doubt my biggest challenge to date has been working through the Covid pandemic. It was a very difficult time. Like other services and care homes, there was much uncertainty and due to team absentees we had to use a lot of agency workers which meant inconsistency of care when the people we support needed it most. I was challenged personally working stressful long hours without team leaders or shift leaders. My take away mantra from the whole experience is "anything is possible after Covid" which gets me through any tough days.
And what are your career highlights so far?
Dan: Seeing the people you support grow in independence and seeing their little achievements which mean such a lot to them - such as making their first cup of tea, and then making them for the whole service - just mean such a lot to me too. It's a really powerful emotion and so rewarding. I also love all the activities I've been a part of or have organised which really impact the people we support. From beach cleans organised by a colleague which are becoming really popular with more and more of the people we support attending, a cookery course I wrote which has empowered people to learn new skills and now prepare for their own service theme nights, even going abroad on holidays.
Dan: One of the biggest highlights of my career though is seeing the progression of a person I have supported since day one called Stephen. Stephen and I are great friends. He has learning disabilities and anxiety support needs, he was in a hospital setting for a long time before arriving at our service and I am so proud to say he is now leading a much more independent life and enjoying better health, and is also able to live close by to his family which means the world to them all. Over the years we have worked together to reduce his anxieties which have enabled him to do so much more.
A really great memory with Stephen is when I managed to set up for him to volunteer for Macmillan as a gardener as he really loves gardening. Stephen and I visited an elderly lady living with cancer each week to mow the lawn, do some weeding and plant anything she wanted us to. During the pandemic the visits had to stop which upset Stephen so throughout lockdown, I supported him to complete approximately 15 online gardening courses, which he now has certificates of all over his bedroom. It gave him focus and grew his skills when he couldn't be an active gardener.
You have already achieved so much but what are your future aspirations?
Dan: I am anticipating my first CQC inspection as registered manager which could happen at any time - I am of course striving for an outstanding rating. And I would love to progress even further at NCG but for now I am focusing on my new challenge.
Finally what would you say to anyone interested in a career in adult social care?
If you have an interest and a passion for helping others - just go for it! It sounds daunting but don't be afraid as you get all the support you need. Give it a go and you'll find there are so many courses you can do and avenues you can take your career down to suit you - it can be very flexible in terms of progression. Show up, show willing and get ready to feel rewarded!
To read a little more about Dan's Deal and Hythe services, click here.
To kickstart your career in adult social care with National Care Group, search our current vacancies, and get in touch with our Talent Acquisition Team today!