Setting up a managers’ forum

Susan Yates is the manager at Dial House in Bedford, a family-run nursing home for 50 residents.

Since I finished the My Home Life programme in 2012, the group of managers I was with on it has depleted – some have just moved away from the area, and others have left care completely. I missed the times we had together, talking about our shared issues and working through ideas to make things better. We had also had a really positive session with the local hospital about working on the admissions process – but this has since gone quiet.

I decided to offer a chance up to the managers in the area – and those from my My Home Life group who were still around– to meet for a managers’ forum.

My home has got a second lounge which is great for meetings – and at the moment everything is going well with my staff and the home so I felt I had a little time I could give to this kind of project.

At our first meeting I was quite nervous about not taking over the whole session. I was really keen on the idea of having regular meetings with the group but didn’t want to come over too pushy! But it went really well and we’ve now got regular dates in the diary and the group are really enjoying the meetings.

I’ve also managed to get back in touch with some of the managers I went through the My Home Life programme with, and they’re coming to the next meeting – I’m elated!

So, here are my top tips on how to set up your own managers’ forum:

  1. If you’re hosting, think about space – a meeting room might be big enough – or you could use a spare lounge or dining area, if one of the care homes has one. But try to keep yourself away from what’s happening in the home or you’ll quickly get distracted!
  2. Lots of notice is the key to getting in people’s diaries – and maybe an email or phone call a week before just to remind people.
  3. Be open to ideas. It’s a good plan to start off by asking people what they want to get out of meeting together and use that to plan some upcoming meetings.
  4. Ask someone to chair the session – it’s easy to get carried away chatting so it can be useful to have someone to keep time.
  5. Start off by ‘checking-in’ – introducing yourself and chatting through anything going on in your home at the moment, maybe something to get off your chest – or something you tried that went really well. As you build up trust with the other people in the group, together you could suggest solutions for other people’s issues and maybe find answers for your own challenges.
  6. Think about inviting speakers along – could be people that you want to work better with – or someone who could provide some more information on a topic. For example, we asked along the Senior Practitioner of our local Mental Capacity Team to talk to us about the Deprivation of Liberty safeguarding paperwork. Since we started quite a few people have been in touch to ask to come along to speak to our group – they’ve realised we’re an important group of people to have a conversation with!
  7. But – if you are inviting speakers, think about keeping a bit of time back at the beginning or end of the session just for the group, so you keep up to date with each other.
  8. As you’re chatting about how things are going, you might come across something where you could take action – say inviting someone to come to a future forum meeting to discuss an issue. It is helpful to assign tasks to specific people to make sure that someone does it!
  9. If you’re reading this and thinking about it, go for it. The worst that could happen is that you get to know the faces of the managers you’re working alongside to deliver care.