My Career Journey - Donna Winterborne
At Runwood Homes, we are always looking for people to join our high quality teams. We care about our staff, and invest in providing opportunities for advancement, as well as a friendly, rewarding, working environment. We would like to share Donna's story and congratulate her on her promotion to Regional Operations Director.
Why did you join the social care sector?
When I first went into the care sector I started as a domestic assistant 36 years ago ; I never thought it would become a career and one that I would become so passionate about or even stick to and progress in over the years.
In the early days it was a job to earn money and to pay the bills like most who come into the industry as I had a family to support; but in time I grew to love what I was doing. I found I was passionate about the role and the residents who were in our care, and I wanted to learn and develop further.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really thrive on making positive changes for others and trying to go the extra mile for people; to ensure everyone is treated equally but in a person-centred way as no two people are the same. We all come from different walks of life and have different experiences and things to teach each other and being able to find and utilize skills that people have is very rewarding.
Having myself worked my way from a domestic assistant to now Regional Operations Director; I hope to inspire others that you can develop and progress in care and show to others that you don’t have to have endless qualifications and experience to achieve. All you need is motivation, empathy and a genuine care for others and most of all, a desire to push yourself through the hard times.
Tell us a bit more about career journey at Runwood Homes?
Prior to moving to Runwood Homes, I had worked in the industry for 19 years from a domestic care and senior carer, then management for 13 years. When I applied for the job at Runwood Homes, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be in care anymore, but I went for the interview anyway as I knew that I did not really want to do anything else, and I got the job.
I started as a Deputy Manager in 2007 at Kathryn Court in Shoeburyness and within 6 months I was offered the job as Home Manager at Broomhills care home in Rochford. I then moved on to manage Crowstone House in Westcliff. I made my final move back to Kathryn Court where I stayed as a Home Manager for 14 years and was very happy and supported. I also supported many other homes locally on an ad hoc basis, before being promoted to Regional Operations Director for Runwood homes in 2023, overseeing and supporting 7 homes in the Essex area.
During my time with Runwood Homes, I have attended many training sessions and have trained to be a manual handling instructor. I have achieved my NVQ level 5 in care as well as numerous other qualifications in areas such as safeguarding, dementia, medication, MCA and medication.
Who is your social care hero and why?
When I started in care, I worked with a nurse who if I hadn’t made my beds properly would strip the bed back to show me how to do it again. She would also look at the resident’s environment and say, “this is their home you know”. I can’t remember how many times I re-made a bed before she said they were ok. It was so frustrating, but I was determined to get it right! To this day, bed making is one of the things I focus heavily on and this is one of the things I can actually say helped me develop; not only with my bed making skills, but in how I look at the care home environment as a whole for our residents as it is their home, not ours.
What makes a great care worker?
Someone who will get involved with all aspects of the home to enrich and make a difference to the residents in our care. It may seem a small thing to you, but that spritz of perfume whilst getting dressed or ensuring that the bedroom is clean and tidy will mean everything to our residents and their visitors and helps to maintain the resident’s dignity when they may not be as independent as they once were.
The role of a care worker is not an easy job, but it is so rewarding to see that you have made a difference to that person’s life.
From domestic staff who make sure the home is clean and tidy, to care staff who look after the residents’ wellbeing; to the maintenance staff who ensure the home is safe and well maintained. Everyone is a vital and valued cog in the wheel and without everyone it would not run properly.
What do you do when life gets a bit too much?
My family and my friends are important to me. It’s important that you make sure you have a good work and home life balance. Sharing how you are feeling with others within the organisation who will all listen may have tips to help you through. There are so many people who you can talk to who have probably been through and have felt exactly how you are now. I have met some wonderful people through my time who I know I can count on when I need to and likewise, I hope they can count on me!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Good things will come to those who wait and bide your time! Never did I think when I entered the care sector that I would be in the position I am in now; but over time you come to realise just how much you can offer, and it encourages you to push to that next step!
Take every opportunity that you are offered. Even if you don’t think a course or a role is something you will enjoy doing; just do it and see how you feel when you have done it! You might surprise yourself.
Don’t feel you have to take on everything yourself. A lot of people have different skills and talents and by finding them and helping them to utilise them, you are helping everyone to grow and develop their skills too.
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