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From Care Assistant to Interim Regional Director: Progressing at Bupa

Charlie joined Bupa as a Care Assistant back in 2002 and hasn’t looked back since! Over the years she’s progressed through various roles within our care homes, and she's recently been offered an interim Regional Director position.  
What originally made you go into care?
I studied Mental Health Nursing for 2 years at Huddersfield University, but just before my final year, I decided that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to be a Nurse, I wanted to be part of the decision-making process. It was an unpopular decision. Everyone thought I was making a huge mistake, but it turned out to be the best thing I could have done for my career. I recently reconnected with someone that was on my course at university, and she couldn’t believe how quickly I’d progressed without having finished my degree. That’s the brilliant thing about working in care, you don’t have to be a Nurse to progress. I’m living proof of that!
Talk us through your career journey at Bupa.
I started at Bupa in 2002, working as a night Care Assistant before moving onto days. I progressed to Senior Carer and then Care Lead at the same home where I worked for about 12 years. At the time, there was no further career progression available at that home, so I moved to another Bupa home to work as their Deputy Manager. When I was ready to make the step up to Home Manager, I moved to a different home again. During the 5 years that I worked as a Home Manager, I managed 4 separate homes including a residential, residential dementia and nursing dementia home. After 5 years, I progressed to Regional Support Manager and supported a portfolio of care homes across the business. I’ve recently just been offered an interim Regional Director position and I can’t wait to get started in my new role.  
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What kind of support have you been given to progress at Bupa?  
In the early days of my career at Bupa, there wasn’t a huge amount of support offered but I’ve really seen that change over the years. You’re now supported to build your skills and there’s processes and initiatives in place to help you get where you want to be in your career. I’ve been given opportunities to work alongside colleagues in more senior roles, to learn from them and develop my skills, so that when the next role became available, I was equipped with the right skill set and was in a great position to apply. Bupa is really good at adapting to different styles of learning – I prefer being thrown in at deep end and learning on the job rather than classroom-based learning, but equally, there is that type of training available for people that prefer that. From one-to-one supervisions to our career progression programme, development conversations are a part of everyday life now, so you get on-going support and feedback to support your aspirations which is great.
Were you offered courses/apprenticeships to support your development and how did you find the support to do these?
There are loads of courses at Bupa that can support your development whether you’re looking to progress or not. I previously did the Clinical Excellence Course which I really enjoyed. It gave me the opportunity to learn from people all across the business. From GPs and Physios to those working in our Clinics and at our Richmond Villages. I learnt that a lot of the barriers that we face are similar so that gave me the opportunity to learn best practise and take away different perspectives on business challenges which was great. My Regional Director has just done the Safeguarding Level 4 and has put me forward for this as well. When I first looked to progress, you couldn’t do courses that were above your current level. For example, you couldn’t do your Level 5 unless you were currently working at that level, but that’s changed in recent years. Now we have Clinical Services Managers and Senior staff that have completed or are working towards their Level 5. There’s the opportunity now to learn while you’re in your current role so you’re ready to progress when a role becomes available.
What would you say to someone who’s looking to build a career and progress in the care industry?
There might be a few knock backs – you can apply for the next role and unfortunately sometimes you’re not successful, but that feedback can be invaluable. I can only speak from my experience at Bupa, but I when previously applied to work as a Regional Director, I didn’t get the role at the time. When I look back now, the feedback I received then really helped me to look at what I needed to do to develop. I created a 12-month plan based on the feedback that included what I wanted/needed to do, how I was going to do it and what support I needed from manager. I gave that to my Regional Director, and we worked together to support my development in those areas.
Do you have a favourite memory from your time in care?
When I worked at Lindley Grange, we did the memory walk with two of our residents who had dementia. We hired a minibus and took some of the team and our visitors for the day. Members of the public kept coming over to us to say they’d never seen anyone from a care home with dementia doing the walk and it was just a really positive day. Seeing the smiles on our residents’ faces and how much they enjoyed the day was just amazing. We were all shattered at the end, but we had such a great day! I love the variety that comes with working in care and seeing the residents happy always reminds me why I love what I do. I wouldn’t change it for the world!
Has Charlie’s story got you thinking about a career in care at Bupa? Register your details below and one of our team will get in touch with you to discuss further.