‘We have to preserve social care values’

Giles Gardner graduated with a Diploma in Social Work in 1994 and has been a social work manager since 1999. As operations manager for adult and community services at Devon Council he is responsible for 61 staff, including community care workers, social workers and occupational therapists.

He believes that managers, despite the financial and human resource pressures they face, are still motivated to champion social care. “We have to preserve, cherish and protect the inherent values of social care and its difference to the medical model.”

Gardner tries to empower staff to have confidence in their skills and professional values by being clear about the direction the service is going in and his expectations. “If I am going to have any credibility with staff then I have to be professional, honest and share information.”

In the office is a notice board, and whenever staff appear in a newspaper or magazine the article is pinned up to acknowledge their good work and help motivate others. Gardner’s top management tip is to always listen to staff and to never make assumptions. “If someone comes in at 10.30am it’s very tempting to say ‘what time’s this then?’ when in fact they could have been up all night with their sick child.”

He also advocates, from hard-learned experience, to never make a snap decision while walking down the corridor with your car keys in your hand. “Tell your staff you’ll talk about it with them when you have more time to focus on it.”


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