Jul 19

Mentoring scheme offers peer support

Posted: 24 July 2019

Last year, Partners in Care: Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole, used a grant from Skills for Care’s Workforce Development Innovation Fund (WDIF) to introduce a peer-led mentoring project. Kate Blake, Team Manager at Partners in Care, tells us more about how it’s helped with local peer support and developing managers in their area.

Our project aim was to enhance and extend the reach of the well-established Registered Manager Networks that we support. We discussed the idea of peer-mentoring with registered managers locally and identified three key impacts:

  • experienced managers could access valuable continuing professional development (CPD)
  • isolated or less experienced managers would be better supported and increase their confidence
  • most importantly, both of these outcomes would lead to those people needing care and support benefiting from a more motivated and skilled workforce.

We recruited mentors and mentees through the networks that we currently support, as well as through our close links with a local Care Association. The mentors were provided with training around the role of the mentor, listening skills and leadership styles. We also brought the mentees together for a session before they were paired with their mentors; this proved to be an important step in getting mentees fully engaged and giving them the confidence to establish a relationship with their mentor.

To help us pair mentors and mentees we asked each party for some basic information about their service, experience to date and what they felt they had to offer or gain. We also looked closely at geographic location. Whilst a mentoring relationship can be established via phone, we found that a face-to-face introduction allowed people to build trust and a rapport more quickly.

We continued to support mentors and mentees throughout the project, with an experienced mentor visiting each pair at least once and staying in touch with them.

Benefits for mentees

As part of the mentoring process, mentees identified an area they wanted to focus on and feedback from mentees has been exceptional. One mentee who wanted to increase her knowledge and confidence in her role, with a particular focus on conducting supervisions said:

My mentor has helped me reflect on my practice. I have found it really inspiring and motivating. I feel very fortunate to work with somebody with so much experience.

Another mentee, preparing for her CQC registration interview said:

My mentor has been brilliant, so supportive, I am so thankful for all her help with my CQC registration. It’s been great to speak to somebody outside of the home who understands my role and goes through the same challenges as me.

Another mentee said:

I feel every manager would benefit by having a mentor, it has really motivated me within my role. 

Benefits for mentors

Mentors also benefited, telling us about the value of the opportunity to reflect on their own practice and the chance to learn from their mentees. It was clear that the relationships formed had become an important development opportunity in their own right for mentors. Two mentors said:

It’s so interesting listening to someone working in a different service, who clearly has great aspirations and obvious drive, and passion. 

This has been really helpful for me as it has made me reflect on my own work. I have also learnt from my mentee.

With feedback like that we should absolutely recommend that other networks think about how to create opportunities for mentoring.

Top tips

In terms of lessons for other networks, some of the key themes we identified are:

  • early input to ensure that mentees are clear about the parameters of the mentoring relationship and feeling able to fully commit is important. This might include helping them to negotiate time away from their services
  • close attention to detail at the matching stage; think about personality type, the setting and service, as well as geography. It will pay dividends 
  • mentoring agreements and monitoring relationships helped to identify any issues and keep each party on track 
  • working with people to ensure they have the confidence to take part is important.

The project has provided an invaluable opportunity for peer-led support and was an excellent way of extending the support available through our networks.

In the short-term the groups of mentors and mentees intend to stay in touch through platforms such as WhatsApp and their Registered Manager Networks.

In the medium-term we have committed to bringing everyone involved back together this autumn. Our longer-term ambition is to seek opportunities for further funding to grow and repeat the activity.

Moving forward, it has been really exciting to hear mentees talk about a desire to become mentors and mentors wanting to continue in that role!


Find out more

  • Find your nearest Registered Manager Network at www.skillsforcare.org.uk/networks
  • We’re the membership organisation for registered managers in England. As one of the many benefits of membership, members have the opportunity to train to become mentors or apply to be mentored. Find out more at www.skillsforcare.org.uk/membership
  • Catch up with our June/July ‘Developing managers’ campaign here and on Twitter at #DevelopingManagers