My Career with
My name is Lee and I’m the registered manager at Heather Leigh Lodge. I am married and have two children (both boys), one 12-year-old and one 17-year-old. Besides spending time with my family, I am a huge football, boxing, and F1 fan. I’m a motorcyclist who enjoys days out with my biker mates traveling around the UK. I also love music, especially attending music festivals. I travelled through Europe in my younger days before settling down in the UK with my family.
What did you do before getting into residential care?
After leaving school I joined the Army and was an infantry soldier for The Kings Own Royal Border Regiment for four years.
Before I got into care I was in the building trade, working for my dad’s company. My main trade was plumbing and pipe fitting, but I also fitted windows and did other general building work. After that, I moved to Spain and worked for an English building company over there for around 4 years. It was a great time to be out there as the Spanish peseta had just changed to the Euro, so there was a huge property boom – meaning lots of work for us!
What made you interested in a career in care?
After moving back to the UK I did some odd jobs, but wanted a proper career so I could get onto the property ladder. I started looking at advertisements and saw one that said - ‘Do you want to help young people make progress in their lives?’ I imagined that working with young people would be really rewarding, and I thought ‘yeah, I could do that, I’m an outgoing person and a people person’.
So, I bit the bullet and applied for a vacancy at a Residential School in Kirkby Lonsdale and was successful in getting the job. I worked as a teaching assistant during the day and did shifts caring for the students outside of school hours. Initially, it was a bit of a culture shock working with children in care, but I grew to love it and knew it’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my career. I worked for them for about 8 months before moving to Hexagon Care.
I never in
a million years thought I would progress to where I am now.
Talk us through your career progression with Hexagon Care
I never in a million years thought I would progress to where I am now. I started as a casual residential support worker (CRSW) at Parkview and was there for 18 months. When the company opened a home in Bolton, I transferred to that home as a team leader. During that time, I had decided I didn’t want to progress to management level, so I stayed in that role for 8 years.
However, changes in personal circumstances at home meant I needed a role where I could support my wife and children more in the evenings and at weekends. When the deputy in the home went on maternity leave for 6 months, my manager asked me to step up into the role, and I ended up really enjoying it. So, when the full-time vacancy for deputy at Parkview (the first home I worked at) came up, I jumped at the chance to apply.
I was deputy there for around 6 years, with no intention of being a manager. However, when my manager got promoted to service manager and his role was left vacant, the universe was obviously trying to tell me something! I didn’t want the job at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to maintain the quality of care and stability of the home that we had worked so hard for. After chatting with my service manager and head of service and getting support and encouragement from them, I decided to go for it. After managing Parkview for a while, I moved on to be registered manager at Heather Leigh Lodge and that’s where I still am today.
What support has Hexagon Care provided to aid your progression?
All of the managers I’ve worked with have been fantastic. Some of our managers have been with the company for 20 plus years, so to have that kind of knowledge at your fingertips is priceless. Along with support from my service managers, this has really shaped me as a manager.
The training at Hexagon Care is second to none. When I first started with the company, I didn’t have any qualifications, but I now have a Level 3 NVQ in Health & Social Care (Children & Young People) and Level 5 Diploma in Leadership & Management, along with hundreds of hours of valuable CPD training over the years. My learning style is learning ‘on the job’; I don’t like sitting in a classroom studying, and the support from Hexagon Care has allowed me to learn in my own way.
Some of our
managers have been with the company for 20 plus years, so to have that kind of knowledge at your fingertips is priceless.
What are the most important attributes for a successful residential care manager?
Having knowledge of all of the regulations, policies and procedures is really important, as it’s your responsibility as a manager to ensure these are adhered to in the home. Some parts of the job can be tough, so it’s really important to be resilient and be able to bounce back from adversity. Also, it’s ok to make mistakes sometimes even as a manager, because with a great support system around you, and people to push you to be the best manager you can be, you can learn valuable lessons from mistakes.
What’s your favourite thing about being a manager?
I love seeing the growth and progression of my staff team. This enables them to work better with our young people, which in turn improves their progression too. Seeing positive results is definitely the best part of the job.
What’s your favourite thing about working for Hexagon Care?
I’ve worked for Hexagon Care for over 16 years, and this in itself shows how much I enjoy working here. I always say if I was to leave Hexagon Care, that would be the end of my career in care as I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.
The health and wellbeing benefits we get are really helpful, the pay is good, but most importantly, you feel part of a family. It’s a close-knit company and everyone is treated like human beings and with the same level of respect. You can reach out to any of the senior managers and they will always help you out without question. I love the fact that we have direct access to the CEO of the company, who has experience of working in care himself and his door is always open to all staff. Not many places can say that.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of getting a ‘Good in ALL areas’ in my first Ofsted inspection at Heather Leigh Lodge. To me this felt like confirmation that I could do my job and that I had made the right decision to become a manager.
What are your goals for the future?
Being a manager fits in with my life at the moment, as I get to help my wife and spend time with my kids in the evening. I’m in a good place - I’ve built a great staff team and have a great deputy in Paul, so I’m happy where I am for now. I definitely don’t want to be a service manager - although I said that about being a deputy and a manager too so you never know!
It’s a close-
knit company and everyone is treated like
human beings and with the same level of
What would you say to someone who is thinking of a career with Hexagon Care?
Whenever I interview people, I always tell them my story as an example of how Hexagon Care will support them to progress in their career. Because we have over 50 homes, the opportunities for progression are endless – if there isn’t something at your home, there are always chances elsewhere for you to move up the career ladder.
For anyone just starting out as a support worker, I would say get stuck in with the team and get to know the young people, learn from the more experienced members of the team, attend all the training offered to you, and ask questions – there’s no such thing as a stupid question! If you give the job your all, it will reward you in equal measures. Plus, everyone at Hexagon Care will be here to support you, so you will have the best support network to help you to grow.