Career clinic: the roles of senior workers in a care home

Q: I am a support worker at a residential care home for older people and ready to take the next step up the career ladder. I’m planning to apply for both senior support worker and deputy manager roles, but am unclear about the differences between the two positions.

A: Angela Teal replies: Within different local authority and private sector care settings there are different names for job roles. At Kirklees a career structure is in place to encourage the workforce to actively gain promotion.

Commission for Social Care Inspection standards state that, to be left in charge of a care home, applicants must be at least aged 21 and qualified to NVQ level 2 in care, or equivalent qualification. The structure should be a natural progression from a senior support officer to trainee deputy manager.

Within both job roles the primary focus is to ensure the quality of care given to service users exceeds CSCI expectations and standards. This encompasses developing and implementing person-centred care packages, including risk management, and delivering care alongside care or domestic assistants, cooks and maintenance staff. Developing good relationships and maintaining links with other professionals, partners, agencies, families and carers are also important responsibilities.

Each role has clear definitions of what is expected and have objectives within this role.

The role of a senior support officer is seen as hands on, working alongside the team, giving clear direction to the staff you are working with under the guidance of the more senior manager on duty. At times you will take on overall responsibility for the home when no other senior officer is present

Communication with colleagues is paramount, so they are aware of any changes in behaviour, risks or safeguarding issues that have taken place since they were last on duty. Developing your own skills by working towards your A1 assessor’s award to enable you to carry out NVQ assessments with staff is also important. This stage of the career ladder is also the first step in taking on more responsibilities for achieving outcomes for the client group. This could take the form of administering medication in line with policy and procedure and assisting GPs and district nurses when they visit the home.

As a deputy manager, leadership skills are a vital component, as you will need to identify, react and resolve issues that arise daily. In addition, a large part of the role will be to establish and maintain relationships with service users, relatives, other professionals, and support networks. Your role will include working with adult protection agencies being involved in case conferences.

Staff development is a fundamental aspect and your role will include NVQ assessment, induction training, staff supervisions and holding annual performance review and development plans with individual team members. Your role will include the recruitment and selection of new staff.

You will also be responsible for establishing and working with systems within the workplace including budgets, rotas, improving attendance, dealing with complaints and compliments, risk management, defaults, and arranging, chairing and attending meetings as required.

Angela Teal is a care home manager at Castle Grange home run by Kirklees Council

Question to be answered in the 19 June edition of Community Care

I qualified as a social worker in France some years ago. I need to find out whether I need to undertake any training or qualifications to be able to practise in the UK? We will answer this question in the 19 June issue of Community Care. We want to publish readers’ advice too – send it to by 12 June.

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