A day in the life of a Unit Manager at Exemplar Health Care

22 June 2021

Julie works as a Unit Manager at our Fairburn Mews care home in Castleford

Our Unit Manager roles offer a senior position for Registered Nurses - they lead the nursing and care team on shift, ensuring that people's medical, physical and emotional needs are met to the highest standards. Here, Julie, who works as a Unit Manager at our Fairburn Mews care home in Castleford, shares what a day in the life of a Unit Manager looks like. If you're looking for the next step in your nursing career, check out our nursing vacancies

I’m Julie, a Unit Manager at Fairburn Mews care home in Castleford, where I started working in 2006 when the home first opened.

Previously, I had been working in retail as a manager of a shop, but was craving something different. When the home opened, I applied for a role as a Health Care Assistant and have since retrained as a Registered Nurse (RGN) and am now a Unit Manager.

My favourite part of the job is working directly with our service users and making their everyday better. And it’s nice being able to work closer to home – I have a much better work life balance.

Where I work

I work on the Lowrie Unit at Fairburn Mews, which specialises in supporting adults with Huntington’s disease. The unit supports up to ten adults with complex care needs – eight of them have Huntington’s disease, one has Parkinson’s and the other has Capgras Syndrome.

My responsibilities

I work on the unit and have direct contact with the people we support to ensure that their needs are met. Some of my key responsibilities are administering medication and managing the medication cycle, planning and reviewing care, referring service users to other services and managing stock of PPE and clinical equipment.

There are also some regular audits that I do to ensure that we’re always delivering high-quality care, including a medication, meal care profile audits, as well as clinical and environmental checks.

Supervising my team

As Unit Manager, I supervise the team of Registered Nurses and Health Care Assistants on the unit, monitoring staffing levels and delegating tasks. I also carry out Performance Development Reviews and supervisions with the team to discuss their objectives and support their career development.

I like promote a positive and fun culture at work, supporting everyone to work as a team and making every day the best it can be.

Developing and delivering training

Some of the people who live on the unit display behaviours of concern. I’ve completed Exemplar Behaviour Support Training and support the team when they’re caring for those who display these behaviours.

I also complete other training to keep my nursing skills up-to-date. I’ve recently completed Exemplar Health Care’s People Management Skills programme to develop my leadership and management skills.

As Unit Manager, I develop and deliver training for the team. In particular, I deliver Huntington’s disease training that’s bespoke to our service users – it’s really helpful that, together, we can discuss how we can best deliver person-centred care to meet people’s unique needs and challenges.

I also deliver other training sessions such as PEG care and management, IDDSI, dysphagia, React to Red for management of healthy skin and reducing pressure risks.

A typical day shift

My day can change quite quickly depending on service user and colleague’s needs, however my typical day usually starts with a handover with the team to discuss allocations and updates on the unit. I check the diary to see what’s happening that day and prioritise my own and my team’s work.

Around 08.30 I start the morning medication round and do clinic and spot checks on all of our service users, as well as supporting the team if they need it. We also do a medication round at lunch and tea time. Throughout the day, I ensure that all documentation, including our electronic medication records and body maps, are up-to-date.

In the afternoon, I usually allocate two hours to complete any diary actions or personal tasks, such as audits, medication stock management, marketing for the home and doing supervisions with the team. 

After tea, I do environment and equipment checks on the unit. The night shift starts at 20.00 so we do a handover from 19.45.

Challenges of the role

The biggest challenge is having time to do everything that I’d like to do. I have a planner with how I’d like my shift to go, but this can change quickly depending on the needs of our service users and colleagues.

Some of the people we support can display unpredictable and behaviours of concern including aggression and reluctance with personal hygiene and adequate diet intake.

People’s needs can change quickly, and it can be challenging to keep on top of changing all of the relevant documentation to reflect this. Sometimes it feels like for every piece of work I complete I get another two, which can be stressful. I plan and make ‘to do’ lists to help me to manage this, and I have a supportive team and usually manage to complete my planned tasks by the end of the week.

I take great joy from working with our service users and they make me giggle. I consider their loss of independent living and this brings me back to why I work so hard to make life the best it can be for them.

I’m also proud that the unit has achieved accreditation from the Huntington’s Disease Association and is the first and only home in England to have achieved this status.

Unit Manager roles with Exemplar Health Care 

Our Unit Manager roles are a great opportunity for Registered Nurses for those who are looking to move into a more senior role. Being at the forefront of clinical care delivery, you'll be responsible for providing strong leadership to develop and improve the standard of daily living for our service users. You'll lead the nursing and care teams during your shifts to ensure that people's medical, physical and emotional needs are met. And you'll mentor and motivate colleagues, champion safety and dignity and drive continuous improvement.

If you're looking for your next nursing role, search our Unit Manager vacancies