This thought leadership article is written by Championing Social Care, Ambassador, Paul Bridge, Chief Executive Social Housing at Civitas Investment Management.
My journey into the sector began with my Granny. My Granny lived to 100 years old. Why? Good genes, luck, and the transformative effect of the care of others.
I work for an Investment Manager which has over the last seven years brought significant amount of institutional capital to invest in homes in the community badly needed by those with significant care needs. We now manage nearly 3bn of assets which importantly house over 10,000 people across the country. Residents may have a learning disability, a significant mental health concern, physical disability or a combination of more than one care need.
Its inspiring to play a part in meeting so much need in partnership with Housing Providers and Specialist Care companies but how did I get here?
Upon graduation in 1992 I had no clear career path and commenced full time working life in welfare benefits advice and quickly moved into social housing. My first and second jobs as a rent recovery officer and housing officer lit within me a passion to do as much as I could in my professional career to improve the management and supply of social housing in the UK.
My housing management role reinforced how vital a safe, well-maintained home is to all of us and how really all aspirations and hopes for oneself and ones family need a home to give those hopes life.
In the early part of my career I played significant and exciting roles in leading regeneration schemes where large existing communities needed large capital investment, large scale physical regeneration or demolition and replacement but crucially also significant commitment and investment into social and economic activities.
Working for an innovative Housing Association I was able to lead investment into over 10,000 homes crucially each one providing a home to the most diverse communities, and it was a privilege to work with so many social housing residents in partnership to transform communities.
I was then lucky enough to become Chief Executive of Homes for Haringey a provider with over 20,000 homes where I worked in partnership with staff and residents to deliver large scale transformation in six compelling years.
So, to Care. It is manifest that a safe and secure home is a basic human need, but what of people who also need a supporting hand. My first personal experience of the transformative effect of a helping hand was my dearly loved Granny who died at the age of 100 and 3 days.
A great innings but actually by the age of 92 Granny was scared to live at home and scared to not live at home. Doctors said her life expectancy was very short not least of which because she had repeated falls, a weak chest caused by a lifelong commitment to roll ups and was struggling to feed herself.
Her spirit was still amazing and heart-warming. I lived 200 miles away but when I ‘popped in because I was passing’ I caught her in the garden on a step ladder hanging out washing in the garden. She was 95 and said “ Lummey, don’t tell any of the children about this, they will kill me”.
Eventually through temporary stays we were able to permanently move my Granny into a care home and her final years she was well fed, kept warm, looked after and cherished. The care home had a picture of my granny on the wall in which she had a beaming smile. Above the picture was a sign saying ‘Happiness’.
We have a society where more are living into old age and need care. We have many young people through the miracle of medical science have survived traumatic births and need support throughout their lives but need the greatest possible independence and a home in which you or I might live in. Not to live in large impersonal institutions which was the predominant model decades ago but society has rightly decided must come to an end.
As demand increases and rightly expectations rise as to what amazing care looks and feels like it is a privilege to be a small part of securing provision and helping the sector grow. It is axiomatic that people are at the heart of care both those who receive care and those who give it. Rightly during the pandemic society became aware of the vital roles of those giving care and Championing Social Care seeks to keep this recognition high on all of our agendas.
There are challenges well versed in funding, recruitment, lack of real estate, growing demand and these should not deter us from overcoming any challenges current or emerging as the sign of a successful society is how it looks after those most in need. In addition, there are significant savings to be made by the taxpayer for organising care in the right place at the right time for the right people.
I am so proud to be an ambassador for Championing Social Care and I hope you have some insight from reading this article about what drives me to be part of this.