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Reflections of a Registered Manager: Starting at a new home

In October 2020, Chelsea Bryan took over the running of The Orchard, our children’s home in Somerset. We asked Chelsea what it’s like being the Registered Manager of a children’s home, the challenges presented by the pandemic and how she’s been developing the home.

“It’s given me a real confidence boost knowing that the changes I’ve implemented are having such a positive effect on the house and the team.”

When I joined the team in October 2020, my first port of call was to bring on new staff members and help to increase morale amongst the existing team. Part of this was to ensure that each team member was up to date with their training that is essential to their individual development, including attachment training. The pandemic has had an impact on this as adapting to the ‘new normal’ takes time, but I was determined that the team received the training they needed. The training took place over Zoom and made a huge difference to the team’s confidence.

I always say, “happy team, happy house”. If the staff are happy, then they will want to stay with us and will feel confident and empowered to do their jobs. I encourage them to bring their own ideas, and I actively sit out of meetings so that idea-generation isn’t hindered. As a result, we have arranged cooking days and pet days, where the team have brought their puppies and kittens into the home. I’ve also bought some chickens for the house who are going to be living in the garden from April this year!

(L-R) Chicken coop built, ready to rehome three rescue chickens!; Nicole’s kitten, Echo, visited The Orchard; Dean’s Cocker Spaniel, Fizz, brought much joy to the adults and young person!

The support from Five Rivers has been great and they have supplied us with everything we’ve needed or asked for. I have been busy working with the HR team throughout this period, interviewing and recruiting new staff.

The staff have really progressed and taken control of the home, and I provide a helping hand when I need it. I joke with the team that my aim is to come to work and put my feet up – ideally no teaching would be required as the staff would be so well equipped – this worked well at Fountain House, where my deputy, Stacey, is now the registered manager! The home has been rated outstanding for three consecutive years by Ofsted.

It’s amazing to see the effect the improvements have had on the house and the team. It’s given me a real confidence boost knowing that the changes I’ve implemented are having such a positive effect on the house and the team. Before taking over, I visited the home, and really early on I identified the need for more toys. Now there are so many toys in our specially designated playroom which is one of my favourite changes so far.  This is a key part of my role, to make the house a home, and for everyone to feel like a family.

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