A manager who resigned rather than carry on facing the pressures
of work tells her story.
Last year was a strange and difficult one for me. This was due
in no small part to my decision to resign from my position as the
unit manager of a social services respite unit for adults with
learning difficulties, following a re-evaluation of my life.
It was not an easy decision because I had always considered
myself a competent and considerate manager. However, over the years
there were so many changes and such an increased workload that my
health suffered. This article is not designed to point a finger at
the authority I worked for, but rather at those things that made my
life intolerable in the hope that something can be done before more
Over the last five years the role of unit manager has changed
out of all recognition. More and more is heaped into the
administrative pot with no increase in clerical support hours.
By far the biggest problem is the unrealistic budgets that
managers are required to administer. You, your manager and the
finance manager know from April that you are under-funded, but no
one has any power to do anything about the situation. The result of
this is that care staff are not covered fully when on leave or off
sick and this, in turn, means that staff are put under greater
pressure and managers are criticised for overworking them.
Of course there are parts of social services which do have extra
funding, such as child protection, and no one would deny that this
is a good thing. But learning difficulty services have always been
the “poor relation” with the expectation that a lot will be
delivered but with no extra resources to do it.
All the above may be easier to cope with if you are supported by
your line manager. In my case I had a line manager who, in the 18
months prior to my resignation, was either off sick or on
secondment and his post was not filled, due to budgetary pressures.
When I did see him he was so over-stretched that nothing seemed to
happen on the issues that were causing the most concern. With
budgetary issues it was always: “I hear what you are saying,
There were many other difficulties and frustrations that built
up prior to my leaving at the end of September which were specific
to the position I held. However, the issues I have raised here are
not specific to my situation but appear to be general to the
learning difficulty field, and possibly to other client groups as
I am not the first to resign because of the intolerable
pressures brought to bear by a system which increasingly sees its
managers as expendable.
I know of many other managers whose health is deteriorating and
others who are already on long-term sick leave. How many more
managers are going to be dumped on the scrap-heap before someone
does something about it?
The writer is a former manager of a local authority
respite unit for adults with learning difficulties and wishes to