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These are the reflections of Wendy Coleman, Registered Manager at 23 Duston Road, who retires in June after 10 years at Richardson Care. We’d like to thank her for the way that she has led her team and brought stability to the home. Wendy’s passion, commitment and support has enabled her and her team to enhance the lives of the residents at 23 Duston Road. Here she shares her reflections on her experience at Richardson Care.

“It has been a pleasure to work for Richardson Care. The care they provide is excellent and I am proud I have been part of the Management team and the relationship we have built. I am proud of the staff at 23 Duston Road; their hard work and achievements. I could not have achieved what I have without them. I am proud of the relationships I have built with service users’ families and other professionals.

Bringing leadership to the team

“When I first came to 23 Duston Road, there had been frequent changes of management, so the staff had been left without consistent management. They lacked guidance, leadership and direction. I found out later that they didn’t expect me to last more than three months!

“I worked with the staff to give them stability of direction and to ensure that everyone understood their responsibilities, increasing motivation and the overall effectiveness of the team. With more focus on consistently implementing policies and procedures, staff were better able to deliver good standards, thus providing better outcomes for the residents.

“Every day is different and often brings new challenges. It has been wonderful to see the home transform and staff develop into a cohesive team. We are all responsible for the wellbeing and safety of the residents, fulfilment of their needs and positive outcomes.

Management qualities

“I feel as a Manager you must be caring and have large amounts of patience and resilience. You need to have good communication skills and always be ready to listen. As Managers, we play a key role in ensuring that the service users’ needs are met and they live happy fulfilled lives.

“I see my achievements as enhancing the lives of the service users. It’s also when staff lay on events, parties, outings, etc and I see how much the residents enjoy them. Seeing staff development and confidence in promoting high standards of care are also very rewarding.

“It’s a demanding environment as many of our service users have complex needs and can present with behaviour that challenges. As a Manager, you also have to deal with staff performance issues. I have learnt from every experience, and I know that I’m not alone. I am supported in my role by the Multi-disciplinary team of neuro specialists and the other Managers.

“I have learnt that it is important to ask for help: My peers, the Managers and Directors have always been there for guidance and support.

“I feel I have developed myself in the role. As well as keeping up to date with training, I have taken the opportunity to advance my skills. I have enjoyed working with my peers and the Management team, to develop skills in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), where you reflect on your own practice and those of others.

It’s more than a job

“Being the Manager at 23 Duston Road has been more than a job: It has been a big part of my life and I will take many happy memories with me. I have made many good friends and I find the feedback from everyone quite overwhelming. Everyone should be proud of what they have achieved: I am sure that they and the company will continue to grow and achieve.”

Managing complex placements

“Wendy’s experience and calm and level character was just what we needed at 23 Duston Road”, adds Greg Richardson-Cheater, Director. “We have some service users with very complex and challenging behaviours who need a stable and consistent environment. Without someone like Wendy, some of those placements may have failed.

“She is also genuinely caring and always up for the challenge, because she wants to give people a chance. For instance, she has been prepared to accept some very difficult respite placements because she want to give them and their family a break.

“Wendy has demonstrated true commitment to the job, the service users and her colleagues. She had originally planned to retire before the Covid crisis, but decided to stay on through a very difficult time. We are hugely grateful to her for the support that she has given us over the last 10 years. We’d like to wish her all the very best for her retirement.”


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Gill Ayris talks about her role at Richardson Care and why she loves it so much.

“I moved to Richardson Care from the corporate world six years ago, swapping event management and promotions for the complex processes of Admissions & Referrals. I was made to feel really welcome: it’s a great team and there’s good support from the business owners and managers. In March 2019, I became Admissions & Referrals Manager.

“Along with Admissions & Referrals Co-ordinators, Sharon & Ebony, we are responsible for promoting our services to social workers, case managers, solicitors and other professionals. We attend events as well as keeping in touch by phone and email. As Richardson Care has been established for over 30 years and we accept service users from all over the country, we have a large network of contacts to manage. Thanks to our track record and the reputation of our services, many of our referrals come from word of mouth.

“I love my role. What gives me the most job satisfaction is receiving a referral and following it through to the end. That means securing a placement in one of our homes, knowing that we can support the person’s needs and knowing that they will fit in with the current population. I love seeing them settle in and watching them progress in their therapies and their behaviours, and improving their quality of life. And it’s really rewarding to see them move on – either back home or to supported living. Even if they stay with us over the longer term, it’s lovely to see them develop their daily living skills and be happy.

“That’s what it’s all about. If you’re working in care you have to have that passion to improve someone’s life. At the end of the day, we’re dealing with real people. If someone’s had a brain injury, they are still that person. They are still Joe Bloggs. They might have a diagnosis now, but they are still Joe.”

“When we receive a referral, we need to assess whether we can help that person and whether they will fit in with the current population in that home. This is crucial – we are very mindful of this being a person’s home, where they feel safe and happy. We don’t want to disrupt life for our existing service users by introducing someone who won’t fit in. Consequently, we require a lot of information at the point of referral. We need full disclosure of the individual’s current conditions, living skills, cognitive abilities, mental capacity, risk behaviours and medications, as well as their medical and forensic history.

“Then if we feel that they would indeed fit into our community, we arrange an assessment. Under normal circumstances, we travel all over the country to complete assessments. It’s usually the admissions team member who has been dealing with the case, along with the appropriate home manager, who will go. We consult with our clinical team and if we feel that we can support that person, we make an offer by letter. The offer letter details the level of specialist care provision and associated costs.

“At Richardson Care, although we have a strong clinical team, this is not a hospital setting: it’s much more like a home from home. For example, the staff don’t wear uniforms, so there’s more of a relaxed feeling, it’s more of a family environment. Whether you have a brain injury or whether you have a learning disability, when you’re coming to one of our homes, from that time on it’s your home. You wouldn’t wear a uniform at home. We want everyone to feel comfortable and relaxed, so I think the no uniform policy makes a big difference.

“We have six care homes and I always say to families, friends and professionals who come to visit our homes prior to a referral is that they must look at all of the homes. If you walk into a home and half the service users aren’t there – they’re out doing this activity or that activity – it’s completely different to seeing everyone sitting in the lounge not doing anything. By visiting the homes, you can feel the atmosphere. You have to walk out of that home feeling happy and comfortable with leaving your loved one or client there.

“Of course, life has changed for everyone during the Covid-19 crisis. For me and my team, this means that our focus has been more on supporting the service users in our homes. We’re based at The Richardson Mews, so we’ve been going shopping for the service users here or supporting them with activities within the home. Sharon has been providing admin support at 23 Duston Road as staff have not been going from one home to another. In general, the morale has been fantastic and everyone has pulled together to keep our service users safe and happy. When we go back to our normal roles full time, I’m sure we’re going to miss seeing so much of our service users!”

You can contact Gill Ayris and her team on 01604 791071 or email admissions@richardsoncares.co.uk

See Gill Ayris talking about her role in this video, recorded in January 2020.



This is part of a series of blog posts which we have created to introduce you to our team of professionals who make up the backbone of our organisation. The posts feature staff across the whole business: in the homes, referrals and admissions, multi-disciplinary therapies, maintenance, etc. They are written as a relaxed conversation, so […]


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