The position of care manager is a front-line leadership role within a residential care setting.

They are responsible for all aspects of the day-to-day operations of the residential care setting; recruiting and managing staff teams, managing budgets and ensuring that the quality of the services provided meets the National Care Standards.

Care homes are becoming more specialised services, especially for people living with dementia or those at the end of life, and care managers are responsible for homes that provide all year, round-the-clock care.

The best care managers ensure that their care services are clearly visible as a local resource integrated in the community.

The role can be challenging and isolating, especially if managing provisions in rural locations; however there is now an increased focus and commitment to providing support and training to those in leadership roles within adult social care, making it an exciting and rewarding career choice.

Care manager roles can be found within local council, National Health Service (NHS) Trusts and private or not-for-profit provisions.

Types of care manager

Care managers may work in a variety of settings including:

  • with adults and young adults with learning difficulties;
  • in elderly care or nursing homes;
  • in supported housing;
  • in hospice care.

Responsibilities

Roles can vary depending on the setting but responsibilities usually include:

  • managing budgets;
  • recruiting and supervising staff;
  • chairing meetings and delivering training;
  • maintaining quality standards and ensuring health and safety compliance;
  • liaising with, and maintaining partnerships with, other local community organisations;
  • delivering person-centred care;
  • ensuring any regulatory activity such as personal care and administering medicines, is delivered within regulations;
  • organising activities for residents;
  • liaising with families of residents;
  • actively promoting the independence of residents.

There are also opportunities to manage residential establishments for children. In this instance typical tasks include:

  • safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the children;
  • ensuring the quality of care provided is consistent with current legislation;
  • liaising with Local Authorities as well as health and other professionals working with the children;
  • managing child protection concerns and complaints;
  • contributing to care planning, statutory case reviews and case conferences;
  • supporting children's emotional and behavioural needs;
  • leading homes through Ofsted inspections;
  • assessing new referrals and carrying out inductions.

The National Minimum Standards for care homes and managers are issued by the Department of Health and can be found via the Care Quality Commission (CQC). For children and young people these are issued by the Department for Education.

Salary

  • Salaries for registered managers vary greatly depending on whether you are working for a local authority provision or an NHS Trust where there are established pay bands, or for private and not-for-profit provisions. On average registered managers can expect to earn around £30,000.
  • Some care providers have started to pay the living wage rather than the minimum wage.
  • Experienced care managers can earn over £45,000, and within some private provision settings, registered managers can earn up to £70,000.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Employee benefits

Some roles may include additional bonuses such as a company car, share options and so on, but this will depend on the employer. Private companies provide more additional bonuses.

Working hours

Residential care is a 24 hour, year-round service and managers will usually work between 35 to 40 hours per week, which may include shifts and weekend work and some on-call duties in the event of an emergency.

What to expect

  • The job involves spending considerable office time completing paperwork, but also includes time spent visiting carers and residents in the care home setting. Some posts may have a live-in requirement.
  • There is not much travel involved, although those who progress on to a regional manager role may be expected to undertake some travel to visit residences under their remit.

Qualifications

While care management is a not a degree-entry profession many care managers do have management qualifications and some go on to pursue further qualifications within their areas of specialism, for example in dementia or autism studies.

Having a qualification in nursing, social work, or a health and social care-related degree will increase your chances; in some cases, where the role includes both clinical and commercial management a nursing qualification is essential.

However, with the rise of graduate schemes that provide on-the-job training through work placements and access to management qualifications, graduates from other disciplines are able to pursue this career.

Skills

You will need to show:

  • excellent interpersonal and communication skills and the ability to communicate with a range of people, using a variety of communication methods;
  • a passion for working with people and providing person-centred care;
  • the ability to lead and make decisions;
  • the capacity to work under pressure and to approach their work with strong problem-solving skills;
  • good organisational skills and the ability to prioritise work;
  • an understanding of the need to keep up-to-date with legislation, relevant to their service.

An important aspect of recruiting within the social care sector, is recruiting people with the right values and behaviours to undertake such an important role. Values relevant to social care include:

  • adaptability;
  • compassion;
  • courage;
  • empathy;
  • imagination;
  • integrity;
  • respect;
  • responsibility;
  • treating people with dignity.

Work experience

Most jobs require at least two years management experience in a relevant field and it is a requirement of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) that every registered care provision has a registered manager, as many of the services carried out in residential care settings fall under the band of regulated activities within the Care Act (2014).

Employers

The most common employers of care managers are:

  • private residential care homes;
  • NHS trusts;
  • local authorities;
  • charities and voluntary sector organisations.

With the number of care homes increasing, especially in elderly care, there is a rising demand for qualified registered managers.

Recent government reports indicate that many care homes are still without registered managers and new roles are coming up regularly across the UK.

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For information on graduate schemes see:

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Professional development

Care managers working in settings which provide regulated activities (for example, care homes that provide personal care and medical treatment) should be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) within six months of taking up a post. Those wishing to register are required to complete an application with the CQC and undergo criminal record checks.

Although CQC does not require registered managers to have a Level 5 diploma in Leadership, it does provide necessary evidence of continuing professional development (CPD), and Skills for Care do recommend managers attain it.

The QCF Level 5 diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care and Children and Young People's Services has the following pathways:

  • Management of Adult Services;
  • Management of Adult Residential Settings;
  • Practice in Adult Services;
  • Management of Children and Young People's Services;
  • Management of Children and Young People's Residential Services;
  • Practice in Children and Young People's Services.

The QCF Level 5 replaces the former Registered Manager's Award (Level 4) and is aimed specifically at managing and leading care services. Within the sector, there is increasing recognition of the importance of registered managers and their work, and of the need to provide continued opportunities for professional development and networking.

A guide on all the current adult social care qualifications, from entry level upwards, is provided on the sector skills council website, Skills for Care. Details of training for all front-line and strategic staff can also be found through the membership organisation National Skills Academy for Social Care, which has merged with Skills for Care provides. The latter also runs both a Registered Managers Programme and a graduate scheme.

Currently, there is no professional body representing registered managers, so the National Skills Academy for Social Care Registered Managers Network is an invaluable resource.

Some employers send their managers on a variety of training courses and support them to gain postgraduate level qualifications.

Career prospects

There are various options available for managers looking to progress their careers. Large healthcare companies or charities offer regional manager opportunities, which carry the responsibility of overseeing a number of provisions within a regional area.

For a different perspective in social care management, care managers may move between frontline operational roles into strategic roles such as commissioning posts with local authorities and NHS Trusts.

The independent regulator for health and social care in England, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), recruits inspectors and inspection managers to inspect social care provisions. Here an experienced care manager could use their knowledge to help to ensure that provisions are meeting required standards of quality and care.

Care managers who have a background in social work or nursing, may find their experience enables them to move back into management roles within those areas.

Some managers may undertake further study to increase their specialist knowledge of areas such as dementia care and learning disabilities, and could consider training and lecturing roles within further and higher education institutions.

High-level experienced managers may become involved in consultancy work, advising care providers and contributing to research and policy writing on issues of social care management.