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The power of networks

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Skills for Care supports over 150 local peer networks for registered managers across England, covering every local authority area. Each network is chaired by a registered manager, who ensures that network meetings provide a ‘safe space’ for managers.

Marlene Kelly is the registered manager at Auburn Mere residential care home in Watford and chairs her local network. She says: “The registered manager role can be isolating, particularly in the smaller services, so making connections with other managers in your area is really valuable. I find it comforting to talk to others who love their role but understand the daily pressures it brings. We are all trying to do our best by achieving a balance of offering the very best service possible to those who we support and managing our own and our team’s development and wellbeing.”

This powerful feedback is representative of what we know more widely from network attendees. When we surveyed managers asking how they benefited from attending networks:

  • 74% told us they had a better understanding of legislation and policy
  • 68% were more confident and prepared for inspection
  • 69% felt more positive about their roles
  • 70% felt less isolated.

So, if you’re a manager, but haven’t attended a network yet, what can you expect?

Peer support

Managers frequently tell us that some of the most important support they receive is from other managers and peers. Perhaps best summed up by one network attendee as: “confidence, reassurance, knowing you’re in the same boat as others and having someone to share problems with.”

Networks offer this informally, through time to chat or network over a cup of tea. Many set time aside on their agenda to discuss ‘successes and challenges’ or ‘one good, one bad’ from managers in the room. This may sound intimidating for managers new to a network until they realise that the issues people raise are the same ones they’re also trying to solve.

It’s also common for networks to have a WhatsApp group, so that managers can stay in touch between meetings. A number of networks have taken this peer support even further by arranging visits to each other’s services or putting buddying arrangements in place. 

What’s most important is that each network finds the structure and level of support that’s right for the managers in the room.

Expert speakers

The majority of networks invite guest speakers to their meetings. These invites provide managers with an important opportunity to hear from experts or key stakeholders.

Over recent months many networks have heard from members of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), local pharmacists or others on hot topics like inspection, oral health or medication.

During 2020-2021 networks will continue to attract speakers on important subjects, like the introduction of the Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS).

Speakers won’t always be from national bodies. One of the most popular opportunities is the chance to hear from over providers, including those rated ‘Outstanding’ at inspection.

Of course, networks can have meetings without speakers and simply choose what’s right for them.

Proof of attendance

All managers are under pressure to use their time effectively. A certificate of attendance is available to every manager attending a network meeting.

Managers share these certificates with the CQC and others as evidence of their links to other providers, or to demonstrate one of the ways they stay up-to-date and develop their knowledge.

Find out more

Every network supported by Skills for Care meets a minimum of three times a year. Contacting your nearest network is easy. Either:

  • find your nearest network here and email the Chair
  • find your Skills for Care locality manager and get in touch.
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