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Look after yourself!

by Nada Wakeford

It has been 9 months since I resigned from my post of a registered manager of one of the best care homes in the country, one of the few homes with outstanding rating in all 5 categories.

When I left, I felt an overwhelming sense of grief and loss. Even now, 9 months later, there is not a day when I don’t think about it, not so much about the building but about the friendships, camaraderie, fun and laughter, about our silliness, jokes and banter, about our internal language we invented, promises and commitments we made to each other. I miss it. Cliché as it sounds, I miss my family.

People often asked me what made the Home special, what made it outstanding and it was a difficult question to answer. It is never one thing or one person, that is for sure. Consecutive governments and regulators have desperately tried to make care better over the years but I am afraid, in my view, all we are achieving is creating a cumbersome system focused far too much on empirical evidence and nowhere near enough on people. I do understand though, how do you measure happiness?  On a scale of 1-10, how important is laughter? How about fun? What about love, friendships, affection?

The Home never felt like a care home, to be honest, it never felt like work. That was the beauty of it, we created this relaxed, friendly environment where people felt genuinely supported and like they belonged. It had the feel of a quiet efficiency of Rolls Royce, beauty and elegance of a swan. Even my husband used to think I just drink coffee and chat with people all day. But do not be fooled, this takes a lot of hard graft. In fact, in the last two years of my service I felt completely exhausted, emotionally fatigued and burnt out. In the end, every waking hour of every day was filled with work, leaving very little for myself.

You don’t really grasp this is happening, it creeps up on you gradually and I allowed it to happen. I invested my heart and my soul into The Home and I did it willingly, I never questioned it because you would do anything for your family, wouldn’t you? Take this as a friendly advice, another cliché, I know but unless you look after yourself, you will burn out too.

Do I regret it? Absolutely not! I had the best 15 years of my life, I made friends forever and together we created something unique, something we believed in with all our hearts. We created memories to last us to the end of our lives. This is something that happens once in your lifetime if you’re lucky.

If you are asking me if I’d do it again, then that’ll be another blog……

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