It’s probably rare to go from mopping shopping centre floors to managing a specialist care home in under a decade. But that's the career journey taken by Katie Leonard; and there are plenty of challenges left too.
Nine years ago, after working her way through university on the domestic team at a Sheffield shopping centre, Katie joined Exemplar Health Care as a newly-qualified nurse in Dearnevale. It wasn’t long before she worked her way up to become a unit manager, and then clinical nurse manager.
Today, she’s the home manager at Fairburn Vale, which is home to 20 service users, and her role involves the day-to-day management of team of about 25 colleagues.
When asked about the challenges of her role, Katie said:
“The biggest challenge is making sure that everyone's happy. You’ve got a lot of people to care for, a lot of complex needs, so making sure that everybody’s cared for is a big challenge. It’s making sure on a day-to-day basis that everything is running tip-top and running as you’d expect it to.”
Katie’s also been nominated twice in the Great British Care Awards, and is a winner of the organisation’s Care Assessor Award. But day-to-day, Katie is very involved in the wellbeing and progress of the home’s service users.
“Although something may seem small to other people, it can be a huge achievement for others."
When asked for examples, Katie referenced the story of a male service user she used to look after, who had severe difficulty concentrating on simple tasks. However, after reviewing his model of care, the man was soon able to make progress.
“He was eventually able to make a cup of coffee for his daughter, and it really, really made their day. She felt like she had got her dad back.”
Katie says it’s important that many colleagues have got to know the service users over a long period.
“You’d perhaps not get a response from service users if they didn’t know you well. But you can see they’ve got that therapeutic relationship with my colleagues - and when it makes them smile, that’s fab.”