Dearnevale’s Helen McGowan features on opening episode of Road to Outstanding Podcast

5 April 2019

Helen Mcgowan

Our Dearnevale Home Manager, Helen McGowan was recently interviewed for Road to Outstanding, a podcast series for the care sector. The podcast series, hosted by Sophie Pearson, is aimed at building a better quality of professional service across the UK by sharing tips and experiences from leaders within the industry.

Road to Outstanding interviews a range of care professionals from chief execs to on-the-ground nursing, with the aim of shining a light on the inspirational stories within the sector. Helen opened series five of the podcast in an interview about Exemplar Health Care Dearnevale, rated outstanding by CQC in 2017.

Helen started nursing in 1984 in Sheffield and after 35 years in the industry, she now manages our Barnsley Exemplar Health Care, care home. Throughout her career, Helen has been involved in different parts of care, at one stage acting as a qualified nurse within the armed forces. Helen eventually left the army to spend more time with her family and during this period focused on rehabilitation within care.

Eleven years ago, Helen joined the team at Dearnevale, and quickly fell in love with the ethos and model of care at the home. Within three years she became clinical nurse manager, before making the transition from clinical to operational manager in 2016.

During the podcast interview, Helen discusses how difficult this decision was at first – her passion was in the hands-on approach to care; however, after some encouragement from colleagues, she learnt the value of stepping back and trusting in the people around her. Managing staff, budgets and reviews is performed with the interests of service users at heart to ensure that the best quality of care could be delivered. Helen now cites taking on the role as the best decision she’s ever made.

With Helen at the reigns, our Barnsley care home received ‘Outstanding’ CGC rating on Valentine’s Day 2018, with all 155 team members, 44 service users, and families celebrating with tea parties to mark the occasion. Helen says that when the CQC inspectors came into the home, she just wanted to show the high standard of care that the Dearnevale family maintains every day. Helen stresses in her podcast interview that nobody is ‘just staff’ at Dearnevale and that everybody is as important as each other within the team.

Helen attributes a lot of the success at Dearnevale to an understanding of staff having family commitments of their own. Building the bridge between work and family by supporting many team members involved in care of their young families and operating a ‘care for the carers’ method has been vital to ensuring that employees can give 100% to supporting service users in their care.

When asked about advice for running an ‘exceptional’ rated care home, Helen was quick to share the importance of listening to staff feedback on how to best deliver specific details of care. ‘Bright idea sessions’ are encouraged at Dearnevale to help create a greater shared understanding of the complex needs of individual residents. Also appreciating that there has to be some flexibility with staff and promoting a family atmosphere enables staff to give the best they can, as if they were working with their own relatives.

So, what’s next for Dearnevale? Maintaining the title of ‘Outstanding’ and enhancing the lives of everyone at the home. Helen has already overseen the creation of a cinema room, a beauty room and the initiative to take service users on holiday outings but remains focused on delivering good quality, detailed care for individuals and families.

Listen to the full podcast below: