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NCF Rising Stars Programme – POSTPONED

We realise that your COVID-19 planning and response has ramped up enormously in recent weeks and that our Rising Stars programme might not be at the forefront of your mind. In the light of this we have decided to postpone the Rising Stars Programme to later in the year. We hope to open nominations in September with the programme starting at the NCF Managers Conference on 2-3 November. All nominations that we have received will be held on file and will be considered for the programme.

We would strongly encourage you to put forward a candidate for this unique initiative later in the year when hopefully the COVID-19 situation will have evolved to be more manageable.

Please do contact Helen our Events and Partnership Officer when you are ready to have a conversation about your nominations.


The NCF strategy incorporates a strong focus on leadership. The programme provides an opportunity for those shining lights in NCF member organisations to develop leadership skills through an annual programme of mentoring and activities.

10 places are available each year and open to Managers and Registered Managers in social care and support in NCF member organisations.

Applying organisations also commit to providing a mentor for the programme, who agrees to meet / contact the Rising Star at least 4 times in the year’s programme as well as attend some of the activities.

The programme begins with the successful candidates being given a free place to attend the NCF Annual Conference.  All accepted Rising Stars and Mentors commit to attending the Conference for their introductory meeting to the programme and each other.

The conference programme gives the opportunity to engage with the conference programme, learn of key policy developments, best practice innovations and challenges facing the strategic thinkers within the sector.

During the conference there is a dedicated session for the Rising Stars and Mentors provided by Apetito where they are introduced to a programme of support that will run throughout the year.

Click on the link for details on the programme activities:

The NCF Rising Stars Programme is supported by NCF Annual Partner – Kieran Lynch VAT specialists to the care sector

If you are interested in applying for the 2021 programme please contact

‘The NCF Rising Stars programme has enable us to push ourselves out of our comfort zone, when I was nominated and successful I said to myself “I am going to take on everything put forward“‘

Charlotee Sehmi, Registered Manager, Optalis

“I wanted to become a Rising Star to build up my support network, knowledge and skills. In this career, we never stop learning, so to have access to a wide network is something not to be missed.”

Beccy Ingleton, Registered Manager, Parkhaven Trust

“I was really pleased to be chosen, to know that someone sees potential in me and that I’m working hard to achieve the best for the people I support.”

Katie Reynolds, Registered Manager, Look Ahead, CMM interview

“The skills that I have learnt will be used daily, particularly the techniques to answer difficult questions and being aware of facial expressions.” (Media Training Day with Altura Learning)

Caroline Coogan, Registered Manager, New Outlook


NCF Rising Stars

2018 Programme

17 – 18 April – NCF Annual Conference 2018, Reading

14 June – Diet and Nutrition day with Apetito, Trowbridge, Somerset

20 September – Technology Day with Person Centred Software, Guildford

12 – 13 November – NCF Managers Conference, Chesford Grange, Kenilworth, Warwickshire

13 November – Castle Brook tour & WCS Innovation Hub, Warwickshire

21 November – Invitation to celebrate 30 years of ‘A POSITIVE CHOICE’ at the House of Lords, Residential Forum

7 December – The Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards – The London Marriott Grosvenor Square, & Rising Star meeting with Vic Rayner

12 February 2019 – Media Training Day – Altura Learning

8 April – Recruitment and Retention Masterclass – Neil Eastwood, Care Recruitment SpecialistAdditional CPD support from Care Management Matters

21 June – CMM Insight Learning Disability and Mental Health Services,  The Renaissance Hotel, Manchester

27 September – CMM Insight – The Lancashire Care Conference – Mercure Dunkenhalgh, Blackburn

11 October –  CMM Insight – The Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Care Association Conference – Windsor Marriott Hotel, Windsor

Recruitment and Retention – a Masterclass with Neil Eastwood

As the final event of the NCF Rising Stars 2018 Programme, we are focussed on one of the biggest challenges Managers and Leaders in Social Care will face in the coming years – Finding and Keeping Quality Staff.

We were delighted to have Neil Eastwood, author of Saving Social Care and an international speaker on this topic, to run an interactive workshop, held at Anthony Collins LLP on 8 April.

To help the NCF Rising Stars master recruitment and retention best practices, Neil shared his approaches to attracting, sourcing, selection, on-boarding and long-term retention of frontline care staff.

It was to a high-energy, fun and instructive session to end the NCF Rising Stars programme. Attendees received signed copies of Neil’s book, Saving Social Care, and lifetime access to his online Recruitment Masterclass course! A fantastic support and resource to have all Neil’s tips and advice close to hand during the development of their careers.

In the spot light – Media Training for NCF Rising Stars

On 13 February the NCF Rising Stars visited Altura Learning in Milton Keynes to experience what it is like in front of the camera and behind the scenes, something Altura Learning offers to their members to highlight best practice in the industry.

Exposure to the media provides excellent opportunities to publicise an organisation and for the NCF Rising Stars the chance to positively promote the role of the Registered Managers in social care.

The Media Skills Training provided by Altura Learning, enables development of communication skills, advice to deliver effective and successful messages, techniques to cope with unexpected and challenging questions and to build confidence.

The day provided The NCF Rising Stars training in 3 different skills sets:
How to read and monitor an autocue
1-2-1 interview skills for radio and audio recordings
TV Interview with resident interviewer Matthew Macnamara

What did you take away from the day?

“Tips in relation to body language/posture, to be confident, be relaxed (or appear relaxed)!” said Carl Jones from Making Space.

“Give yourself time to think, don’t answer if unsure, get across your message” replied Nadine from MHA

The critical role of the Registered Manager is acknowledged across the Social Care sector. S

kills for Care state

“The role of registered managers is critical in the adult social care sector… Registered managers are highly committed individuals running a range of 

services and the personal rewards of the role can be great, with many managers talking about their role as a ‘passion’ not just a job. That means support for this key group of leaders is vital.”

With the support of Altura Learning, the NCF Rising Stars were given training in skills that they will use regularly as well as in media situations.

“The skills that I have learnt will be used daily, the techniques to answer difficult question, being aware of facial expressions that are used.” 

said Caroline Coogan, Registered Managers from New Outlook Housing Association.

We are grateful for the support of our Annual Partner Altura Learning who are able to offer this important investment in Registered Managers in NCF membership. Great things happen when we work together!

Photo – NCF Rising Stars: Carl Jones, from Making Space, Anna Lewkowicz from The Orders of St John Care Trust, Lena Norman from Look Ahead Care, Julie Veritiero from Boroughcare, Nadine Webster from MHA and Caroline Coogan from New Outlook, and Sam Stuart from WCS Care

During the year long programme the NCF Rising Stars have been interviews by CMM, documenting their career journey and experience of taking part in the NCF Rising Star Programme.

NCF Rising Star Carl Jones improves leadership at Swallow Lodge and received glowing CQC report

The report, which was produced after an inspection in October, has upgraded leadership from ‘requiring improvement’ to ‘good’. Manager Carl Jones (NCF Rising Star) took over the running of Swallow Lodge in October 2017, and the latest report notes that the service

“was well led, the registered manager was visible and supportive towards the people in their care, their relatives and the staff who worked at the service.”

“Relatives felt their views and opinions about their family members were listened to”


Rising Stars attend The Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards – The London Marriott Grosvenor Square to celebrate good practice

On 7 December Vic Rayner and Sharon Blackburn CBE were joined by the NCF Rising Stars – Nick Rickwood from RAFA, Julie Veritiero from Borough Care and Olu Yusuf from Accord who later tweeted about the NCF Rising Star Programme:

“I am loving every bit of it and it’s really adding great value to my experience in social care improving my work ethics and personality as well. Thanks for the opportunity given. @vicrayner Your effort with we Rising stars is most appreciated. Amazing experience.”

The NCF Rising Stars met with leading people in the care sector including Andrea Sutcliffe and Sharon Allen OBE and had the opportunity to spend time with the Chelsea Pensioners from the Royal Hospital Chelsea who opened the Awards and also sang later in the proceedings with the children from St Joseph’s Roman Catholic primary school.











NCF Risings Stars Programme 2019 – Confirmed Event Dates

5 June – NCF Annual Conference 2019 – Shaping the Agenda for Great Care

3 July – Diet and Nutrition day with apetito, Trowbridge, Somerset

16 July – Meeting with Care Minister

26 September – Technology Day with Person Centred Software

4-5 November – NCF Managers Conference 2019

5 November – visit to WCS Castle Brook and Innovation Hub

13 February – Media Training Day with Altura Learning

8 April – Staff Development Day with Neil Eastwood, founder Care Friends; Paul Gaudin, founder CareRooms; Kate Terroni, CEO, Care Quality Commission

CMM official media partners to the NCF Rising Star Programme – monthly interview with each NCF Rising Star in Care Management Matters Magazine

NCF Rising Stars Media Training Day at Altura Learning

Key to providing person-centred care and support is the dedication of managers and carers, they are ambassadors for their service and organisation.

The NCF Rising Stars spent a day with Altura Learning at their studios in Milton Keynes – the online and blended training and learning provider for Media Skill training.

The day provided dedicated Media training on different situations that care and support managers might find themselves in everyday; understanding how they present themselves, successfully communicate, improve their customer service skills and build their confidence in difficult situations.

“we interview and are interviewed everyday – you don’t realise how often you use these techniques!” said Kelly Hartley, Manager of Cherry Garth, The Freemantle Trust

Training started with tips and techniques about being interviewed by a professional presenter. Not something that you would think was commonly needed, however it was interesting to hear that 2 of the 10 Rising Stars had already been interviewed for radio and live local TV news stations!

The session moved on to a ‘live studio situation’ with questions and conversation with an experienced interviewer and where the Rising Stars were able to practice these skills under the glare of the camera and seeing themselves in action, followed by autocue training and an Off Camera interview.

“I’m going to take on board everything I’ve learnt today from the media training session going forward. It’s been so helpful and insightful and I can apply what I’ve learnt to everyday situations.” Sam Pycroft, Retirement Community Manager at Sandford Station Retirement Village, run by St Monica Trust.
In a consumer led society, it is important for managers to not only be person-centred in their care provision but also focussed on the importance of building relationships with their local community and have confidence to communicate in many different situations.

NCF Managers Conference and WCS Castle Brook and Innovation Hub Tour

The 4-5 November were busy days for the Rising Stars. Thanks to the generosity of Person Centred Software the Managers on this leadership programme attended the NCF Managers Conference.

This conference was all about the power of the manager. Managers are fundamental to the delivery of outstanding care, and this conference is aimed at supporting managers to make the most of their own ability to deliver high quality, person centred care. It will celebrate success and provide inspiration through a wide range of workshops and top line speakers.

Day 2 started with ‘Rise and Shine with the Rising Stars‘ – Kelly Hartley from Fremantle Trust, Faye Upton from Amica Care and Charlotte Sehmi from Optalis, shared their career journey and experience of the programme with audience.

At the end of the day – 5 November – the Rising Stars jumped on board an Oomph! Out and About Bus to take them to WCS Care Castle Brook and Innovation Hub.

WCS Care uses a range of products and services, which, when combined with our values-based approach to care, help us to ensure that every day is well lived for residents.

At their home, Castle Brook in Kenilworth, they’ve implemented a range of tools, systems and approaches in an inspiring environment to enhance the dignity, choice and independence of residents, while giving team members the opportunity to bring their own personality and creativity to their role.

The Innovation Hub gives them the opportunity to share our approach with other providers (and learn from their experience), show them the systems in action in a real-life setting and try new innovations before rolling them out to our homes.


NCF Rising Stars meeting with Care Minister

On the 16th July 2019 the latest cohort of NCF Rising Stars were invited to attend a roundtable with Care Minister Caroline Dinenage MP. This group of leaders within the care sector had been selected to be Rising Stars by their organisations. New to management within their organisation, they had been identified as real movers within their teams who are committed to creating change and leadership.

The Minister was very interested to hear about the managers’ career to date – with many sharing their story of having joined the organisations as care workers, bank staff or cleaners – and having moved their way up through the career ladder in care. In addition, there were opportunities to talk about the innovations that managers had in place to support the delivery of great care and the challenges that they faced in their day to day work. They were able to provide her with a true picture of their day to day experience as a manager – sharing their ambitions for their services and the sector as a whole.

The Care Minister reflected on the recent recruitment campaign #everydayisdifferent and how strongly she felt about the central role of care in supporting people to live as independently as they can, with a personal approach sitting right at the core. She complimented the managers on their infectious passion and drive for delivering care. She noted how delighted she had been to spend time with the leaders of the future.

Rising Stars were drawn from the following organisations:
Abbeyfield Society, Amica Care Trust, Avante Care and Support, The Fremantle Trust, Friends of the Elderly, GuildCare, NorseCare, Optalis, Pilgrims’ Friends Society, The Salvation Army and St Monica Trust.

If you have any questions relating to the NCF Rising Stars programme, please contact

NCF Rising Stars visit apetito

The NCF Rising Stars Diet and Nutrition Day, attended by both the Rising Stars and their mentors, took place on Wednesday 3rd July.

The day, held at apetito Head Office in Trowbridge, allowed the Rising Stars to learn about dysphagia from Helen Willis, Dietitian at apetito. They also heard from Laura Hardman,

Ethical and Sustainable Manager at apetito, who led a discussion on what ethical trade and sustainability means in the care sector.

Lisa Delaney, Care Homes Sales Manager at apetito, said, “At apetito, we are great supporters of the Rising Star programme and so it was an

honour to host the rising stars and their mentors for the Diet and Nutrition Day. As a leading provider of food to the health and social care sector, we pride ourselves on being experts in diet and nutrition.

The day provided a great opportunity for rising leaders to learn and understand how food plays an important role in the health and well-being of those in their care.”

Our thanks to apetito for hosting an other fabulous day.

NCF Rising Stars Programme – the 2019 cohort start their leadership development journey

The 2019 cohort of NCF Rising Stars start their programme at NCF Annual Conference 2019 with a lunch specially provided by apetito and with thanks to Carterwood.

Supported by annual partners, the NCF Rising Star programme provides an opportunity for those shining lights in NCF member organisations to develop leadership skills through an annual programme of mentoring and activities.

10 places are available each year and open to Managers and Registered Managers in social care and support in NCF member organisations.

Find out more email:

Nicolas Kee Mew is Home Manager at Riverdale Court, Avante Care and Support


I came to the UK to study accounting in 2006. I needed a part-time job to support myself and a friend recommended looking for work in the care sector, so I started in a housekeeping position in a care home. I found that I was really passionate about the work I was doing and stayed at the organisation for seven years.

I got promoted, working my way through care roles, before moving to another company to become a deputy manager. In 2015, I then went to Arthur House where I took on my first registered manager position. It became one of the first care homes to receive an Outstanding rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and that’s something I am still very proud of.

Looking for a new challenge, I moved to Avante Care and Support in 2018, where I became responsible for the home I manage now. It was rated Requires Improvement and I was keen to make changes before our next CQC inspection. I was delighted when, in November 2019, we achieved Good, with an Outstanding in Well-led.

I’m also currently studying for a Master’s degree in dementia, which is a particular area of interest for me. I’m looking forward to completing this and having a really in-depth understanding of the subject and using this throughout my work and with my team.


Riverdale Court care home is an 80-bed residential care home in Welling. We care for older people and those living with dementia. Riverdale Court is a popular and well-supported home with a great reputation within the local community.

Alongside our full-time care provision, we run day care and respite services too. There are a number of clubs and classes for residents at Riverdale Court, including an intergenerational foreign language class, where a local children’s French club comes into the care home and teaches the children at the same time as our residents.

We encourage them to maintain or regain as much independence as they can using modern technology to support people; our home has a dedicated sensory room and a RemPod as well as robotic cats and dogs. I also bring my dog to work, which the residents love, and our handyman does the same. We try to create a homely environment so that our residents and guests feel comfortable and relaxed.

Current role

I’ve been in my role for over 18 months now. Becoming a registered manager wasn’t necessarily what I had planned. I didn’t do well in my A-Levels but what I love about the care sector is that it’s not all about that. You need passion and drive, and I make sure that my staff understand that any of them could be a manager one day if they want to be. One of the best parts of my job is seeing my team recognised for their hard work and being promoted, and helping them to progress in their careers.

I like to show my staff that they have my full support. I started at the bottom rung of the ladder so I’ve seen and experienced a lot of things. No-one is perfect, things go wrong but it’s how we react to these things that make us who we are.

I think that being enthusiastic about your work makes it more rewarding, and having appreciation shown by our community is so motivating. It is a challenge, but I think anyone can be a manager – you just need passion, patience and a desire to always be learning new things.

The time management is one of the most difficult parts. No day is the same, which is a challenge that I love – I always say you have to be a chameleon in this job. But it does mean that your schedule goes out of the window on most days. Of course, the residents always come first, so if you were planning to do some paperwork, but then a resident needs you, there’s no question which one you prioritise.

NCF Rising Stars

I first heard about the NCF Rising Stars programme at an NCF conference in 2018. I met the previous Rising Stars there and asked them about it to find out how it all worked. I went straight back to my manager and asked if they could put me forward. She did and I was so pleased to be selected.

I think it’s a great opportunity for new managers to learn new things – and you get to learn from leaders like Vic Rayner, Neil Eastwood and other sector influencers. It’s a huge privilege and I’m sad it’s nearly over.

I feel so lucky to have had the mentoring and the opportunity to meet other Rising Stars and to be able to learn from each other. It’s a brilliant programme and makes you feel like your role isn’t just to be a manager – it supports us to be better leaders too.

Future career

For the immediate future, I plan to finish my Master’s degree and then settle down a bit maybe. Looking further ahead, I am keen to one day progress to regional director and ultimately to make a change in dementia care; it’s always been a dream of mine to write a book on this subject. I want to be a part of the people and leaders changing the social care sector, especially the dementia area.

I’m also a big advocate for care workers and their rights, and am keen for it to be recognised and considered as a professional career. I’m actually in touch with National Association of Care and Support Workers about this as I know it’s a key focus for them.


My advice is to just go for it. Always believe in yourself and make sure you ask for help when you need it. When you talk to people about becoming a registered manager, they are often put off by the idea, but there is so much support out there. Being part of membership organisations that exist to help you do your best and talking to other people in the sector helps you to feel like you’re a part of something.

I am really lucky to have a great connection with my line manager too, and I think that’s important – to have someone who is supportive and is willing to learn with you.

Share your passion, see where it takes you and remember it’s not always about the money – find a company where you are supported, happy and comfortable and you’ll reap rewards in other ways.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.

For more information, contact Helen Glasspool at National Care Forum. Email: Twitter: @NCFCareForum

Read all the CMM Rising Star Interviews HERE