Julie Parker Updated Final Image.jpg

From Care Assistant to Home Manager: Progressing in the care sector

6 years ago, Julie began working at Bupa as a Care Assistant and hasn’t looked back since! She’s progressed to Senior Care Assistant, Care Lead, Deputy Manager, and she’s now the Home Manager at our Lindley Grange Care Home.
What made you originally go into care?  
I used to be a Warehouse Manager at an Internet based company, but unfortunately, I was made redundant. In the beginning I thought what am I going to do? I was walking in my local area one day and walked past Lindley Grange and thought to myself, I could work in care.  Although I’d never done it professionally or worked with anyone living with dementia before, caring for others had always been in my nature and I thought wouldn’t it be great to have a career where I could help other people. I didn’t have an application form, so I wrote a note saying that I was interested and left it at the care home. To my surprise, I got a phone call, I had an interview and was offered a Care Assistant position.   
Talk us through your career journey at Bupa.
I started working at Bupa 6 years ago as a Care Assistant. I then progressed to Senior Care Assistant and then I was made Care Lead after that. I was always really interested in how everything worked and why decisions were made so I knew I wanted to progress further. A Deputy Manager role came up which I was successful in getting, and then last March, the manager left and so I moved into an interim Home Manager role. I started that role just as the pandemic started so it was a real challenge learning a new role and managing the home through COVID. After working on an interim basis, I was successful in my application for the Home Manager role, and I’ve been the manager at Lindley Grange since last October.  
What kind of support have you been given to progress at Bupa?
I’ve been really lucky with the managers I’ve had  they’ve really focused on developing people that want to progress. They knew that I always asked questions and wanted to understand why decisions had been made and I think they saw that drive in me, so they really encouraged me and pointed me in the right direction.   
Were you offered courses/apprenticeships to support your development and how did you find the support to do these?    
Absolutely! I went on every course possible - anything new that came up I always put myself forward for it, even if it was just a half an hour course. I’m a great believer in understanding why I’m doing something. I don’t just want to fill out a form, I like to understand why this needs to be done and the process behind this.  Most recently, I completed my Level 5 Apprenticeship in Health and Social Care and that was great for my development. My manager was there to support me, the training team were on hand if I was unsure of anything, and I also had support from people across the business. If there was anything I was unsure of I’d come in to work and reach out to the relevant people to bounce ideas off or to get their opinion.   
As a manager, how do you support your team?   
I’d like to think that I’m always fair with people and that I make a conscious effort to support their development and career aspirations. When I have new starters, I’ll always make sure that my door is open. I want people to ask questions and to ask for help if they need it. I’m there to support them to do the best job they can do for our residents. I always aim to lead by example and have a positive outlook no matter how challenging the day might be. We all have down days from time to time but my attitude, and the attitude I expect from my team, is to come back in the next day with a new outlook. Every day is a new day. We spend a lot of time together, it’s like a second family, so I want to create an environment where we all support each other. My door is always open for feedback – I can’t promise that I can say yes to everything, but I’ll listen, take it on board and try to make a difference.   
Lindley Grange is a specialist dementia care home - what are some of the challenges that your team face in this environment?   
Working in a dementia care home is a totally different environment. In this setting, decisions are being made on other people’s behalf. We have to do DOLs and mental capacity assessments which you wouldn’t have to do in a non-dementia home. It’s not sitting with people and having a cup of tea. At times, you can be dealing with really challenging behaviour. People living with dementia sometimes can’t tell you if they have tummy ache, so any changes in behaviour could be a sign that they’re not well and you have to learn how to spot those changes.
Just because residents have dementia doesn’t mean they’re all the same – they’re still individual people and we always have to remember it’s about providing person centred care. Unfortunately, we can’t stop dementia from progressing, but we can help support the individual and their family. It can be really distressing for family members – they’re worried about their loved one and they want to make sure they’re being given the highest standard of care. You’ve really got to be supportive of everyone involved. It can be challenging, but it’s also such a rewarding environment to work in.   
What’s your favourite thing about working in care at Lindley Grange?   
We have residents with advanced dementia living here and to see those moments when they’re laughing and smiling with the team or enjoying their time at the home, really makes it all worthwhile. Even on the challenging days, I go home knowing that I’ve made a difference to my team, our residents and their families. And there’s no better feeling than that.   
Has Julie’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.