Philip Smith is Registered Manager of Florence House, run by the Pilgrims’ Friend Society.
I started my career as a care assistant in a nursing home at the age of 17. I worked my way up to a senior care assistant role and then went onto nights as night supervisor. I then decided I wanted to follow my passion for working with patients nearing the end of their life and went to work for a local hospice as part of their Hospice@Home team; working in the community with those patients in the last few days of life.
I enjoyed this role for a few years, but then wanted to gain a wider experience within healthcare so I got a job as a community healthcare assistant for the District Nursing Service in Northamptonshire.
Whilst working for the District Nursing Service, I gained new clinical skills and competencies which led me to go to University to do a Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care (Acute and Community). Because of this I received a promotion on the District Nursing Team to an Assistant Practitioner.
After working at this level for a couple of years, I decided it was time for a change and moved to a rural GP surgery as their treatment room nurse. Then I saw my current role advertised; it has always been my dream job, as it utilises my skills and varied experiences.
I currently work as Registered Manager of Florence House in Peterborough, which is a 19-bedded residential care home for residents with general frailty or dementia and needing end of life care. It is part of a wider Christian organisation called Pilgrims Friend Society.
The Pilgrims Friend Society run 15 care homes around the UK, providing environments in which elderly people are looked after, comfortable and secure.
All of their homes are founded on Christian faith and opportunities to continue to be part of a Christian community are a core part of the home that are run by the organisation. This has been important to me in my role and I really enjoy knowing that residents are receiving the best care possible whilst maintaining the faith that is so important to them.
I have been in my current role for just 10 months. I have always had a connection with older people and a passion to care for them.
In my current role I can promote, through leadership, a high standard of person-centred care to enable residents to live that fulfilled life.
The role is very different to what I first expected. You can have as many great ideas and visions as you want but you are unable to deliver them all yourself and not everyone is as eager to follow.
However, by learning new skills on management training such as My Home Life and obtaining Level 5 in Leadership and Management, I am finding ways of empowering my staff and coaching them to share the vision so we can all work better together.
The job in many ways exceeds my expectations, it is great to see the difference we can make, but it is not without its challenges.
There is a lot that could be improved within health and social care from a national perspective; in particular, more funding is needed so this does make the job hard at times as a budget can only be stretched so far.
The best part of my role is seeing the residents happy and living that fulfilled life.
An example of this happened when we held a Songs of Praise at Florence House with a cream tea. One of the residents said to me that she was happy living here and this had been the best day of her life so far!
The hardest part of my role is managing staff. I like to be liked by everyone, but as a manager this is not always possible as at times, we must implement things that people don’t like.
NCF Rising Stars
I feel so privileged to have been nominated by the Society’s Director. When they asked me if I was happy to be nominated by them, I felt so blessed that they thought I was a suitable candidate.
I didn’t really think that I would be successful in being one of the chosen Rising Stars. However, I was successful and became one in June 2019. I am hoping to gain lots of new skills and ideas from the programme which I can take back to Florence House and enable me to be a better leader. I want to help all of my staff become rising stars.
I am looking forward to working closely with my mentor and learning from his experiences and seeing how the company he works for does things and see if we can share ideas.
At this point in time, I don’t have any desire to move on from my current position; I enjoy the contact with residents so would never want to be completely away from that. Residents are the people who make my job worthwhile and not seeing them or having daily contact with them would definitely take something away from my role.
However, maybe in the future I would like to look for a promotion to that of my line manager. One of the best things about the Rising Stars initiative is that I feel like it will help give me the tools and confidence to gain new qualities to reach my career goals. They may change as time goes on but as long as I have the knowledge base, I can build on it as I go.
My advice to other registered managers would be to follow your dreams and aspirations. Do all you can to fulfil your ‘vision’ of how you want you and your team to give the best care you can deliver.
Also, it is really important to believe in yourself. I don’t always find this easy but my managers have encouraged me; they have seen qualities in me that I may not have seen in myself and that has given me the confidence to be where I am today.
Senior management can support potential rising stars by giving their staff the chance to try new things and grow in confidence. If you show people that you believe in their ideas then they will flourish.
Now in its third year, the NCF Rising Stars Programme addresses the need to invest in and develop the skills of the next generation of leaders in social care, with registered managers from the NCF membership selected to take part each year.