At Rise we are truly lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?
This has part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you.
We spoke with Raina Summerson the Group CEO at Agincare UK about the care industry, the highs, the lows and moving through the ranks.
RISE: What is your title and could you give us a short summary of what your day to day looks like at Agincare?
Raina: Group Chief Executive – covering all businesses within the group of Agincare companies. Due to the number of and diversity of services we provide, no two days are the same really but essentially my days will cover: looking at current business, considering where we are against budgeted and planned performance and looking to future business development. This activity is all set in the context of our vision, mission and values that underpin the business plan and core objectives. All of it involves a lot of liaison with people inside the business and external partners, such as local authorities, the NHS, our teams and other partners. Also, due to our national presence and scope of business, linking in with regional and national policy work in the sector, for example with professional associations, other large providers and organisations such as the Department of Health and Social Care, Skills for Care, Association of Directors of Social Services and the Local Government Association.
RISE: What do you love most about your job?
Raina: The purpose, the people and the variety. Above all the fact that what Agincare and our teams do makes a real difference to peoples’ lives at critical times and the fact that I get to support and influence that and the wider sector in some way. Also, the feeling of satisfaction of being part of a fantastic team building an increasingly successful and sustainable business that gives employment, development, networks and a sense of place and friendship to around 4,000 people. Small moments of interaction with people who use our services or on talking with our teams are often the highlights of my week.
RISE: How did you get to where you are today?
Raina: I started as a frontline care worker when I was 19, working in a variety of roles covering hospitals, care homes and community. This led me to work for Social services where I was seconded to do my social work training, which I completed in 1997; following further development in this role and achievement of my MA in the evenings, I became a social care regulator for what is now the Care Quality Commission. In 2004, I had the opportunity to join a small but growing family business – Agincare – and the rest is history!
RISE: What is it like working within care? Are there highs and lows?
Raina: I have always been passionate about social care and supporting people, challenging injustice and it’s all I know as a career. There are certainly challenges and resilience is needed both in a personal and business capacity. There is a lot of frustration over the lack of understanding, funding and support of the workforce from government and therefore wider society. Fundamental issues that are causing critical shortfalls in care are simply not addressed and there are consequences that everyone in the sector – workforce and people receiving support services and their families alike – are feeling. That can be hard for people and off-putting. As a care provider or an individual within the sector (in any role), there is a great sense of responsibility. Feeling that you have let anyone down on a personal or professional level, even if not your ‘fault’ is the most difficult part of working in this sector. Offset though by those moments of interaction with people where you can see ‘I/we made a difference’ and the fun, camaraderie and commitment shared in daily work. You can always do something right, do what you do well and always make a difference even within such a difficult system. Overall, I feel amazingly lucky to love what I do and still have such an interest in it after all these years.
RISE: If you were going to give advice to someone that was thinking of starting a career in care, what would you say?
Raina: Go for it and don’t let people put you off! The world is your oyster. There are so many wonderful jobs in the sector, so many different paths for development and something for everyone – values, kindness, compassion and personality are key, the rest might be complex at times but can be learned. Some excel at frontline care work and want to remind providing an essential role there but others develop into team leader, manager roles, head office support roles, nurses, OTs, Social workers or into policy or Directorships. As the current Department of Health and Social Care campaign says ‘every day is different’. People don’t tend to come into it for the glamour or recognition or the money and working conditions, though despite what people believe there are actually many well paid career options in the sector.
So many people hate their jobs, it’s a chore and a way to earn a living. Most people in social care don’t feel that, even though their jobs are tough and they may be tired and want to work different hours or earn more money. If they are still there after a few weeks, they usually love what they do and feel rewarded by it. That’s a great charm of the sector!
RISE: When you made the decision to be a sponsor of the Rock Star Awards (our awards show that celebrates young people across Dorset and Hampshire) this year what was your main reason for this?
Raina: Having attended the last awards, I was blown away by the whole event and stories told. It was a brilliant concept, well organised and a great platform to showcase young people and celebrate what they do – sometimes despite very adverse conditions. This aligned with my own personal and professional experience and awareness of many young people in caring roles doing amazing work or personal caring, who simply get no recognition for this. So, Agincare sponsoring this new ‘Young Carer’ category felt right for us, for the Rock Star Awards and to help raise awareness of care and the stories of caring that are around us all every day.