Dorothy is our Operations Director for our south region supported living services. Ahead of the opening of our two new services, Gravel Hill and Fir Tree Lodge, Dorothy tells us about her experience in the industry, why she chose a career in healthcare, and her vision for the services.
Can you tell us a bit about your experience in the industry?
“I have always worked in healthcare ever since I completed my nursing training at the age of 18. Within nursing my background is surgery and gynaecology. I worked in the NHS for a very long time and then went into management as a Senior Nurse / Business Manager where I thought about whether I wanted to be clinical or management. I decided management was the route I wanted to go down, so I completed a management qualification. From here, I became a General Manager and then decided to move into a strategic job as Head of Patient, Safety and Quality in an acute organisation in North London, so rather than just having my own areas to manage, I managed the whole organisation.
“In 2014, I started working at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in Putney which is for people with brain injuries and neurological disorders. This was the first time that I had worked outside the NHS. I joined as a Service Manager for the continuing care part of the organisation, and since then I’ve worked in either the private or charity sector for neurological disorders. For the past 8 years, I’ve worked with people with brain injuries and learning disabilities. In July, I started working at Active Care Group as Operations Director, looking after the supported living services.
“I am still a registered nurse too. I think it’s really important to have that clinical background to provide extra help and support to my staff.”
Why did you choose to go into healthcare?
“I always wanted to be a nurse ever since I was a child and that’s what I did! I love the fact each day is different. I couldn’t do a 9-5 type job because I like the fact that I don’t know what the challenges of the day are going to bring, and that is the same across every part of healthcare. You never know what’s going to walk through the door, so I really enjoy that, as well as supporting people and helping people each day. Even when I was a nurse on the ward, everyone was different. If there were two people who needed the same surgery, they would each react differently. Everyone is an individual so it’s important to get to know them and learn how best you can help.”
Can you give us an overview of the services that will be provided at Gravel Hill and Fir Tree Lodge?
“Gravel Hill and Fir Tree Lodge will be supported living services. They will both have 6 beds, and they will be primarily for people with a learning disability, mental health issue, autism, and epilepsy. They will be services where an individual can do a lot for themselves but need extra support, and someone around to help them. This could be supporting them to go out into the community because they don’t feel comfortable to do so alone, or it could be helping them with meal preparation. We want to provide supported living services where individuals can live independently but have support whenever they need it.”
What are you most looking forward to about the services opening?
“Opening a new service is really exciting because while we’ve already got some supported living services within Active Care Group, we can shape these new services into exactly what we want them to be. There’s an excitement around starting with a blank canvas, and making sure our services are doing exactly what they are supposed to.”
What is your vision for the services?
“My vision is that we will provide excellent care for our residents for the support that they need. I want our services to fit in with the company values in encouraging residents to be as independent as possible within supported living, so that they can do as much as they can for themselves with the support of our team. Some of them might be young people who have been at a residential school, and this is their first time living on their own. Others might have come from different services and are taking their next step into supported living. It’s about giving our residents an opportunity to live independently, but being with them every step of the way.”
And finally, what do you like to do in your spare time?
“Once a week I partake in Scottish country dancing which I absolutely love. I am a school governor. I volunteer every Saturday at a local youth football club. I also enjoy going walking and I went on a walking holiday this year.
“My guilty pleasure is Candy Crush!”