‘Unsung’ social care managers to gain peer support network

Plans unveiled to set up community of practice to provide peer support for registered managers after National Skills Academy survey finds many are isolated and lack support.

Photo credit: Tore Bjerkholt/Rex Features
Photo credit: Tore Bjerkholt/Rex Features

Plans to launch a ‘community of practice’ for registered social care managers in England were announced today after a survey revealed their need for support and recognition.

The national network, which would help registered managers share practice dilemmas and support each other, has been proposed by the National Skills Academy for Social Care, off the back of a survey of 1,154 managers, which found:

  • 43% felt supported in their role, 32% felt neutral and 25% felt isolated;
  • 64% felt that their role was not sufficiently recognised outside the social care sector and 48% felt that it was not sufficiently recognised within the sector;
  • 68% would welcome the creation of a membership body for registered managers;
  • While 48% already took part in local networking forums, 37% would like to have access to such forums.

“We need a space where we can ask questions, bounce ideas off each other and connect with other registered managers who understand the issues we face,” said one respondent.

The skills academy is looking to work in partnership with associations representing social care organisations and staff to develop the network. Its initial thinking is that the network would operate online but would facilitate local face-to-face forums and meetings for managers to share ideas.

“The skills academy is committed to supporting registered managers as practice leaders in social care, and we will be working collaboratively with individuals and organisations across the sector to ensure that managers get the support they need,” said acting chief executive Debbie Sorkin.

Alongside the network, the skills academy plans to promote increased opportunities for learning and development through an online hub, which would provide access to e-learning, online seminars and facilities for people to log their training. This would be particularly designed to benefit managers in smaller organisations.

The survey revealed a strong commitment to training, with 96% of respondents attending non-mandatory training, and 58% taking party in training and development at least once every six months. However, 60% of managers in organisations employing fewer than 50 people said there was insufficient funding available for training and development.

As previously reported, the survey found strong commitment among registered managers to their roles – with 66% saying they would still be working in adult social care in five years’ time – amid a lack of recognition and significant job pressures. These included a lack of funding, time pressures, bureaucracy and difficult relationships with commissioners. 

The report was welcomed by the Care Quality Commission, the English Community Care Association and the United Kingdom Homecare Association.

“Registered managers are clearly highly dedicated to their responsibilities and their own personal development, but are working in a system which does not always fully recognise their contribution,” said UKHCA policy and campaigns director Colin Angel. “In addition to the fulfilling areas of their work, dissatisfaction with bureaucracy, the regulatory regime and constrained funding within the sector are yet more indicators of the pressures in a system which needs urgent resolution.”

Mithran Samuel is Community Care’s adults’ editor.

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