Meet Les Poplawski, Director of Safety and Compliance at Guild Care Les Poplawski has been working at Guild Care since 2006. He recently sat down and talked about career progression and what his job in care means to him. What’s your Guild Care Story? When did you join, and why? Back in 2006 when recruitment was difficult across the UK, like many care providers, Guild Care did a recruitment drive in the EU. Poland was included in that drive, so due to personal circumstances, I decided to move to England and take this opportunity. It was only supposed to be temporary, but after 15 years I’m still here! I started as a domestic assistant, and now 15 years later I am a Director of Safety and Compliance. I am so pleased that I was recruited by Guild Care all that time ago. If you want to progress in your career, working for Guild Care is a great place to be. We have people who started as carers and are now Registered Managers, domestics who are now directors and some people who started in their teens and are still working for us 30 years later. What does your career history at Guild Care look like? When I started at Guild Care, I was working as a Domestic Assistant at Linfield House until the end of 2009 when I moved to another Guild Care home as a Domestic Supervisor. I did this for a few years, and although it was a great experience, I was looking for that next step. Following on from this, I became a Housekeeping Manager, a big part of this job is to ensure that the environment that our residents are in is safe. This was my favourite part of the job, so I decided to put myself through some health and safety qualifications. Whilst doing this job, and working in one of the homes, I achieved my qualification which was great. At a similar time, the then Health and Safety Manager left. I was then again approached and asked if I wanted to take this job on an interim basis whilst they looked for someone to do the job full time. I accepted this, and after one week of temping I was offered the job myself. Since then, I have had three more promotions which have landed me the role of Director of Safety and Compliance, it has been quite the journey. How do you keep the homes and residents safe in your role as Director of Safety and Compliance? There are lots of elements to my job and having lots of experience in health and safety over the years has really helped me. In my job, I predominantly look at compliance, health and safety, safeguarding, and CQC inspections. Managing compliments and complaints is a really important role of mine, as it means that I am able to ensure that we are always providing the best possible service for our residents and improving all the time, wherever we can. I carry out mock CQC inspections too, to ensure all our homes are ready to achieve the best possible rating from the CQC, making sure that everything we could need is sitting in one place. What is your favourite part of your role? What I love about my job is that I am not office-based only. I am able to go out and see our service users, spend time with them, and deal with any issues that they might have. For my job, it’s essential that I can get out to see staff and residents and interact with as many people as possible. So, my favourite thing is interacting with people and being able to make their lives better. What is your favourite thing about Guild Care? There are a few things that really stand out for me with Guild Care. Firstly, the culture. Employees are valued and treated very well, and as a result of this they provide an amazing and loving service to our residents. We have this fantastic cycle of staff being treated well, and therefore doing the best for our residents; it really feels like one big family. Secondly, the care that we provide is extremely person-centred, and this is crucial to good dementia care, which I love about Guild Care. We go with the flow and what I mean by that is we meet with the person in their world, rather than bringing them to reality, which they may not see as reality. And finally, with health and safety in particular, we have introduced a ‘positive risk-taking approach’. This means that instead of shutting something down as unsafe, we work to find safe alternatives so that people can still do what they want to do. Taking risks makes people happy, so we work to do the most for people to enjoy their life to the fullest, whilst still being safe. What are your hopes for the future of Guild Care? This is a difficult question because of Covid. I would be saying other things if we hadn’t had the last few years that we’ve had. I really hope that we don’t have any future outbreaks of Covid that jeopardise the safety of our residents, or that limit us financially, because that would limit the amazing services that we are currently able to provide. What would you say to someone looking to join Guild Care? Join us - you will love it here. Let’s not pretend that a job in care is always easy. It can be very difficult. There can be times when people are very emotional, and of course it can be challenging and stressful. But at the end of the day, when you look at our service users and see how happy they are, and how your work really makes a difference to their lives it is so worth it. So, join us, and you too can help make a difference every day to someone’s life.