"I love improving our residents lives. Myself and my team work every day to make sure they have a good quality of life."
Diana Albuquerque started her caring journey as a Care Assistant in a small local residential care home around seven years ago, after moving to the UK from a small town in Portugal. From the moment she started working in care, she knew it was what she was meant to do, and so her journey begun. We spoke to Diana to find out all about her journey – from part time Care Assistant, to Registered Care Home Manager of Abbeyfield dementia-friendly care home, Browns Field House.
Tell us a bit about you and your background.
“My name is Diana Albuquerque, I am 32 years old, and I moved to the UK around seven years ago. I am Portuguese and come from a small town. Now, I am a Qualified Social Worker with experience in several different care settings and scenarios.
“I worked with International Help Aid in 2012 as a Social Worker with challenging communities in Serbia and Kosovo, post war. After that, I began working as a Social Worker with young vulnerable Adults. The past three years I wanted to expand my experience, and so I started working with learning disabilities and with those living with dementia.”
What made you want to pursue a career in care?
“When I moved to the UK, before I was accepted in my Social Worker role, I worked in a small residential care home for six months as a part time Care Assistant. I always remember how much I enjoyed it and how I loved improving the residents lives, working every day to make sure they had a good quality of life. I then became a qualified Social Worker and after three years, the opportunity to work with Abbeyfield at Browns Field House appeared, and I was happy to be able to make a real difference.”
What’s a typical day at Browns Field House like for you?
“A typical day in care doesn’t really exist, every day is different and every day we face different challenges. In fact, last week I was in the office for two days with back-to-back zoom calls and meetings with social services, head office staff, and Business Managers. The next day we I jumped back in as Senior Care Assistant, providing the medication for the residents, supporting them with their meals, keeping in touch with families, GP’s, Dietitians, District Nurses and more! By the end of that same week I was preparing 20 meals for all residents’ breakfast, lunch and supper. Something we pride ourselves on is the fact we cater for all food requirements, currently we have more than 10 residents with specific dietary needs. While wearing all these 'professional hats' I complete my usual tasks as Registered Manager, like daily admin and documentation. That's how different it can be from day-to-day!”
Can you tell me more about your walk around Cambridge town as part of our #CareToJoinUs campaign?
“I came up with the idea to hand out cards about us recruiting, along with a flower after several discussions with Amanda Osborne our Business Manager. We wanted to try something different and do something that would show the Abbeyfield ethos. The idea was to raise awareness that we are hiring whilst also making someone's day with a flower.
“We had some lovely reactions, people chasing us asking for more flowers, one lady said to me, 'You just made my day, thank you sweetie!'. Another lady stopped her car just to say thank you, and we saw many smiles and laughs. As this is what Browns Field House and Abbeyfield are all about – a warm and friendly place, where everyone is welcomed.
We love to do activities like this and get involved in the local community to support them during these strange and difficult times. It's important to remember the Abbeyfield values that our founder, Richard Carr-Gomm, wanted us to carry forward.”
How would you describe your role and what’s your favourite part about it?
“I think to be a Registered Manager of any care home, you need to be able to engage well with people, you need be able to understand people’s skills and strengths and at the same time, understand their struggles and needs. I say this about my residents, but also about my team. My role is support my team in a way they feel safe and happy to provide the best care and support to our residents.
“I am able to walk into the house and see if the the shift is going well or not, I need to be able to understand what are the challenges, what are the stress factors, and what can I do to reduce this and support them. This can something as simple as a one-to-one with them to work on a development plan.
“I love my job and love when we make real changes, when we are able to work as a team and help each other. Like when a new resident is settling in, using a new frame, or we're decorating their room.”
What opportunities for progression are there with a career in care?
“In care, you can acquire skills that are transferable; it’s amazing the things you can learn, you can start like me as a Care Assistant, and go on the become a Care Team Leader, Deputy and then a Manager. It’s all about skills, learning and personal development. You can get a lot of support from Abbeyfield to access the right qualifications, such as apprenticeships or NVQs – and you will get that support all the way through your journey.”
Where are you hoping to be positioned in 5 years time?
“In terms of personal development, I would love to complete a MBA in Clinical Leadership or Business Management to improve my skills and knowledge. I also hope that, in the next 5 years, we have an active, positive and progressive change in the care sector.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
“What keeps me going every day is the support from my team. This past year has been challenging to say the least, and without their commitment, hard work and dedication, we couldn’t have got through it. So, to my team; thank you.”
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