This week’s exclusive interview is with Beverley Smith-Pouliasis, who had a fascinating career path that has led to her current role of estate services manager at Hampshire retirement development Keble Court.
Hi Beverley, please tell us a bit about yourself and your current role.
I am the estate services manager at the new Anchor Trust development, Keble Court. The building comprises 72 one- and two-bedroom apartments for retirees. Anchor Trust is the biggest not for profit organisation in the UK providing housing and care solutions to people over the age of 55-years-old. I feel honoured to have been chosen to manage this scheme and feel very passionate about providing services that can enrich the lives of the residents living at Keble Court.
What route of education/training/jobs has brought you to this position?
I have been a registered care manager with Care Quality Commission (CQC) for many years, providing adult care services in and throughout the community. I set off on this career path as a volunteer for my local hospice following the death of my mother, where I saw care at its best and was inspired to make a difference. This led me to completely change careers and begin work with a care agency as an assistant in order to observe the kind of care and attention people can receive in their own homes. I became so inspired in making a difference that I then became the deputy manager and then registered manager of the service and during this time I acquired a qualification to become a trainer and thus impart my passion of what good care requires to other members of staff.
I was originally employed by Anchor to be both the estate services manager and the registered care manager at Keble Court but as the service evolved it became obvious that these roles needed to be separated. I am pleased that I am still able to influence and help the care office we have on site, but am thoroughly enjoying my role. I have and continue to learn new skills on a daily basis; no two days are the same, which makes it a very interesting role.
Are there particular projects and/or mentors who have been most inspiring on this journey?
My mentors are my two children; they are very intelligent, kind, well rounded individuals and they make me immensely proud.
What are the elements of experience and personal qualities that this kind of job requires?
As this is a customer facing role, you need to be a people person who is able to actively listen and communicate at varying levels to meet each individual person’s needs. It is necessary to be a dependable individual with good professional judgement and a strong character, as there are times where you have to address sensitive or heart-breaking situations and maintain a good sense of calm. A sense of humour also helps too!
A unique sector in the industry, what is most satisfying about working in the retirement homes market?
It is the most gratifying experience to meet new potential residents and follow them through their journey of purchasing an apartment. For many this is a big change where reassurance is required, so providing them with all the information they need, making them feel welcome and helping them to settle in to their new home is vital. The most satisfying element for me is post move-in when they have established relationships with other residents and staff, and feel part of our big family.
Seeing happy faces is always a pleasure. We are very proud of the social environment we have nurtured here at Keble Court; this is a fundamental aspect of any retirement setting.
What are the best aspects of working for Anchor?
Anchor is an organic company that is forever changing. The organisation is always looking at how it can provide its service remit in the best possible way, producing the best possible outcomes for its residents and staff. I like that we have behaviours and values that we should all aspire to. There is also an element of flexibility that allows me to continue with my voluntary work for the local hospice.
Are there established training and career progression policies at the company?
There is a dedicated team responsible for delivering a service that equips their employees with all the relevant knowledge and skills they need to contribute to the success of the organisation and the services it delivers. I know Anchor has a very successful apprenticeship programme and actively promotes an internal application process that allows employees to advance in their careers.
What’s your advice to anyone interested in your kind of role?
Research the role and the company you want to work for, make sure their ethos and values are aligned with your own. Always prepare for the unexpected as there are so many areas in housing that are a pleasure to deal with, but there are also aspects that are challenging.