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

As a care manager, you'll be responsible for all aspects of the day-to-day operations within the care setting, including recruiting and managing staff teams, managing budgets and ensuring that the quality of the services provided meets national care standards.

Care homes are becoming more specialised services, especially for people living with dementia or those at the end of life, and you'll be 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.

Types of care manager

You can work in a variety of settings, including:

  • elderly care homes or nursing homes
  • supported housing (combines housing with support services for vulnerable people - both adults and young adults)
  • children's homes
  • hospice care (for those with life-limiting or terminal illness).

Responsibilities

As a care manager, you'll be responsible for meeting national minimum standards of care issued by relevant bodies. These include:

Roles can vary depending on the setting, but you'll typically need to:

  • ensure the delivery of quality, person-centred care
  • manage budgets and the financial effectiveness of the setting
  • recruit, train and supervise staff
  • chair meetings and deliver training
  • take on a visible leadership role
  • maintain quality standards and ensure health and safety compliance
  • liaise with and maintain partnerships with other local community organisations
  • ensure any regulatory activity, such as personal care and administering medicines, is delivered within regulations
  • provide information, advice and support to residents' families
  • organise activities for residents and actively promote their independence.

There are also opportunities to manage residential establishments for children. In this instance you'll need to:

  • safeguard and promote the welfare of the children
  • ensure the quality of care provided is consistent with current legislation
  • liaise with local authorities as well as health and other professionals working with the children
  • manage child protection concerns and complaints
  • contribute to care planning, statutory case reviews and case conferences
  • support children's emotional and behavioural needs
  • lead homes through Ofsted inspections
  • assess new referrals and carry out inductions.

For children and young people, national minimum standards are issued by the Department for Education.

Salary

  • Salaries for care managers will depend on the role and service, but can range from around £25,500 to £37,000.
  • Experienced care managers can earn over £45,000.
  • In some settings senior managers can earn up to around £70,000.

Salaries vary greatly depending on whether you're working for a local authority provision or an NHS trust where there are established pay bands, or for private and not-for-profit provisions.

Benefits may include a pension and life assurance. Some roles may include additional bonuses such as a company car or share options.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Residential care is a 24 hour, year-round service and you'll usually work between 35 and 40 hours per week. This may include shifts, evening and weekend work, occasional sleep-ins and some on-call duties in the event of an emergency.

What to expect

  • You'll spend considerable office time completing paperwork, but will also visit carers and residents in the care home setting. Some posts have a live-in requirement.
  • Although the role can be challenging, there is now an increased focus on and commitment to providing support and training to those in leadership roles within adult social care.
  • Jobs are available within local council, NHS trust and private or not-for-profit provisions throughout the UK.
  • You may need to travel during the working day when you have responsibility for more than one residence or to attend meetings.

Qualifications

Although care management isn't a degree-entry profession, many care managers have management and leadership qualifications and some go on to do further qualifications within their areas of specialism, for example in dementia or autism studies.

Having a qualification in nursing, social work or occupational therapy, 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. Some care managers will have a mix of qualifications, for example a nursing qualification and a management qualification.

As a graduate, it's possible to apply for the 12-month Skills for Care Graduate Management programme, run in partnership with the NHS Leadership Academy, which is a fast-track route into leadership roles within social care. The programme is open to graduates with any degree subject and leads to a fully-funded management qualification and a health and social care leadership qualification.

It's also possible to work your way up into a management role via a social care apprenticeship. Taking a higher apprenticeship in care leadership and management will provide you with relevant managerial experience and can lead to a senior care worker role. Search for an apprenticeship via GOV.UK - Find an apprenticeship.

For more information about becoming a care manager, see ThinkCareCareers.

Skills

You'll need to have:

  • excellent interpersonal and communication skills, and the ability to communicate with a range of people using a variety of communication methods
  • excellent written skills for writing reports
  • a passion for working with people and providing person-centred care
  • leadership and management skills, with the ability to motivate others
  • the capacity to work under pressure and to take a problem-solving approach to work
  • effective organisational and time management skills with the ability to prioritise your own and others workload
  • numerical skills for managing budgets
  • an understanding of accountability to ensure compliance with company policies and regulatory requirements.

You'll also need the right values and behaviours to work in social care. These include:

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

Work experience

Every registered care provider must have 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).

Most jobs require at least two years' management experience in a relevant field, for example a social care, healthcare, nursing or social work setting.

Employers

The most common employers of care managers are:

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

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

Look for job vacancies at:

Vacancies are also advertised on the websites of:

  • care homes
  • NHS trusts
  • local authorities
  • private hospitals.

Professional development

Care managers working in settings that provide regulated activities (for example, care homes that provide personal care and medical treatment) should be registered with the CQC within six months of taking up a post. In order to register you'll need to complete an application with the CQC and undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

Once registered, you'll need to keep up to date with regulatory requirements throughout your career, undertake continuing professional development (CPD) activities and seek out opportunities to network with other managers. Depending on your employer, you may have access to shadowing, mentoring and coaching to further develop your skills and competences as a leader and manager.

Skills for Care provides a range of leadership development programmes, tools and resources for new, experienced and senior managers. For more information, see Skills for Care - Leadership and management.

Although not a CQC requirement, Skills for Care recommend care managers have a Level 5 diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care and Children and Young People's Services. This qualification is aimed specifically at managing and leading care services and you can only do it once you're working in a management role.

Registered managers are encouraged to become a member of Skills for Care and to join their local registered managers' network to get support and meet other managers in their area.

Employers may also support you in taking a postgraduate qualification in management or a specialist area of work, such as dementia care or learning disabilities.

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, you could 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 CQC, recruits inspectors and inspection managers to inspect social care provisions. As an experienced care manager, you could use your knowledge to help ensure that provisions are meeting required standards of quality and care.

If you've got a background in social work or nursing, you may be able to move back into management roles within those areas.

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. You might also choose to set up a new care service.