Coaching with Care


Really pleased to have been awarded the title ‘Accredited Foundation Coach’ by the Association for Coaching.




Quality Assurance in Social Care

Read my recent article about Quality Assurance in Social Care published in the latest edition of the Registered Manager Journal:

QA in Social Care

The Wall – does it need any support?

Today, we have had a small wall rebuilt on our drive that has been falling down for some time, as a result the wall was in a poorer state of repair than if we had done something about it sooner (and cost more to repair).
Recent experiences both in my own work life and in supporting others with running their care services has reminded me of the importance of making sure we all have the appropriate support around us. There have been times when I have struggled to do a task that I’ve felt that I ‘should’ be able to do on my own and yet for someone else hasn’t been a struggle at all and could have been done so much quicker. Sometimes as a small business owner I feel that I need to be ‘expert’ in everything.
Similarly, sometimes we are so immersed in our own business or care service that we stop seeing what is going on. It is only when there is a problem like a safeguarding incident or involvement from the regulator that we realise that we do need some extra support to deal with the issue. However, it’s possible that had we asked for help and support at an earlier time we may have been able to prevent the problem or difficulty we are now facing; and the cost of the support may have been less than it is in when things have got worse.
So what stops us for asking for support?
Well, in my case sometimes it is because I think it is going to be expensive and cost too much and that its ‘cheaper’ if I do it myself; yet sometimes it takes me a long time when my time would be better spent doing something that I am better at. Sometimes the investment in someone else doing something for you can save significant time and money in the longer term.
We sometimes bury our head in the sand and discount or deny that there is a problem or that we are struggling.
Sometimes it’s because we feel that we should be strong and know what we are doing, and to ask for help is a sign of weakness and that others will make judgements about our professional expertise


Leading Care services
The Essential Standards of Quality and Safety and associated regulations state that staff should be supported at all times to do their job. Similarly, there is a requirement for the service provider (or nominated individual) and registered manager to ensure that they continue to have the necessary skills and experience to run their service competently and safely.
The White Paper ‘Caring for our future: reforming care and support’ also recognises that Registered Managers can feel isolated and the need for support in their role; in particular the need for mentoring and supervision.

John Whitmore in ‘Coaching for Performance’ said:
“We are more like an acorn, which contains within it all the potential to be a magnificent oak tree. We need nourishment, encouragement and the light to reach towards, but the oaktreeness is already within.’”
John Whitmore, Coaching for Performance, Nicholas Brealey, 1996, pages 8–9

So, if you are a manager or provider of a care service, give some consideration to where you get your nourishment and encouragement from, and take an objective look at your service to check there are no ‘crumbling walls’ that may need some attention.

Clematis time

For about two weeks every year the fence in my front garden is completely covered with a mass of pink clematis flowers. Very occasionally when it is particularly warm and sunny the air is filled with the most beautiful fragrance.

Last week when I arrived home on another very wet damp day in my usual rush, I noticed the scent briefly as I rushed past. It was some hours later that I realised unless I went back outside and took my time to appreciate the lovely fragrance that I might not get the opportunity to do again for another year.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in our ‘busyness’ that we forget to take notice of things that are important to us and then miss an opportunity that we later regret.

At work we can spend all our time and energy on dealing with the day to day running of our care service, staffing issues, client issues, emails, phone calls etc that the bigger picture stuff can be missed.

Stephen Covey in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People said that often we use our time ineffectively because we concentrate our energy on either urgent tasks or tasks that aren’t that important but which make demands on our time like some emails, phone calls, meetings or unplanned visitors and interruptions. We then complain that there is not enough time or that we are being asked to do more and more. However, we can fill our days with these tasks and therefore leave no time for dealing with things that aren’t urgent but are important. The reality is that there is no more time and therefore we have to be more effective in how we use the time that we have. Dealing with important but non urgent tasks enables us to develop our service, make plans and give focus to our work.

What tasks do you do that aren’t that important?

What do you wish you had more time to do?

What gets in the way of doing what you want to do?

What do you need to do differently?

A cynical convert

About eight years ago the organisation I was working for decided that all managers were going to train to become coaches and coach their staff. There followed a few weeks of jokes about us all being issued with tracksuits and whistles, as for many of us coaching was firmly associated in our minds with sports coaching. We then all dutifully attended the mandatory workshops being run for those being coached and those doing the coaching. Some of us who had worked in social care and social work settings for many years were initially sceptical, cynical and unclear how coaching differed from high quality reflective practice that was the focus of good supervision practice. Our scepticism and cynicism didn’t help the implementation and no-one initially clearly explained, nor more importantly demonstrated, what was so good about coaching. The implication was that our previous supervisory style was inadequate and not fit for purpose; there was no affirmation that what we were doing was ok and that developing our coaching skills would actually enhance what we were doing.

…and then we were introduced properly to coaching …we were listened to, our concerns were heard and challenged, we were encouraged to make choices that would work for us as individuals; no one told us what to do and gentle questioning opened up a range of possibilities previously unconsidered;most of important of all we felt valued and equal to the people coaching us; that was my tipping point and the beginning of my coaching journey.

Those of us working in  social care settings, whether  residential, community or fieldwork,  need good support from our managers, leaders and colleagues because of the nature of the work that we do. If we are in a supportive or management role we also need to take care of our selves in order to care for others.  We can often feel that we need to have the answer for everything and everyone. Developing our coaching skills enables us to listen to others in order that they can identify what to do for themselves rather than us always being the problem solver. If we rush to problem solve for others we can feel overwhelmed and  they can feel disempowered.