Developing new managers and deputies

Next generation of leadersIt’s important that all adult social care providers support the development of future managers.  With a high turnover of managers across the sector, you need to protect your service by developing your emerging talent into future team leaders, care coordinators, deputies, managers and leaders.

Succession planning is an effective way of strengthening your team, supporting your existing managers and future proofing your service.  It’s also a way to help you deliver high standards of care, both today and in the future.

You can use this online guide to identify talent and understand what learning opportunities, formal programmes and qualifications are required to prepare your aspiring managers, up to and including the registered manager role.

The guide, including practical examples and checklists, is based on what we’ve learned through engaging with aspiring managers and various development programmes that have supported them to develop into new managers and deputies.

It builds upon, and includes, Skills for Care’s recommended Developing and supporting managers and deputies step-by-step route, including suggested timeframes and what funding is available through Skills for Care.   

The loss of a skilled and knowledgeable manager can have a serious detrimental effect on how well a service runs and the quality of care provided, particularly if succession planning has not been implemented.


The state of health care and adult social care in England 2017/18, CQC

Succession planning is a key part of ensuring services continue to provide well-led, consistent and quality care. It also benefits existing managers, who have more skilled and confident staff to support them. 

Our 'practical ways to succession plan' document provides an introduction to succession planning and points to practical resources and recommendations to help you identify and develop talent further, as well as how to check future manager potential and progress them through the learning and development needed.

Being a registered manager is not a role that can be done well without the help of trusted deputies and an effective staff team. With the right support from deputies, team leaders and care coordinators, managers are better placed to achieve ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ outcomes for the people who need care and support. 

When a registered manager leaves their post and there’s no back-up plan, a lack of stability or continuity will impact the quality of care.  At the beginning of 2019, 2,483 (11%) regulated adult social care services didn’t have a registered manager in post. 

CQC inspection rating data reveals that there’s a much higher number of services that don’t meet their Fundamental Standards where there’s no registered manager in post.

Services with a Registered Manager: CQC Rating

  • Outstanding - 3%
  • Good - 80%
  • Requires improvement - 15%
  • Inadequate - 2%

Services without a Registered Manager: CQC rating

  • Outstanding - 1%
  • Good - 64%
  • Requires improvement - 30%
  • Inadequate - 5%

With a 20% annual turnover of registered managers nationally, creating a pipeline of new care managers is crucial and something that all regulated care providers should be undertaking.

Part of the reason for my move was to join a service where I felt I could progress further. I believe my organisation could see I wanted to progress and wanted to ultimately become a registered manager.


For those at the beginning of their care career with an ambition to move into management, I’d recommend to be prepared to work hard to achieve your goal.  Look to be developed but know when is the right time to leave somewhere if opportunities are not available.


Alicia Ferrie, Registered Manager, Short Notice Care Services Ltd

I was not ready at all. Suddenly the buck stops with me, and I just wasn’t prepared for the shock of that, of realising that I was expected to know everything.


Registered Manager of residential service - 

Skills for Care’s Survey of Registered Managers 2018

From deputy manager, care coordinator or team leader to registered manager, there hasn’t previously been a clearly defined career route.  Whilst some services have created their own, many others haven’t focused on succession planning and subsequently struggled when a trusted manager has left. Our recommendations to help address this include:

  • Plan ahead

By thinking early about who has the potential to be a future manager and what support they need, employers can plan the long-term development of staff and start the process of supporting and developing someone before they become a manager.

  • Raise aspirations

Raising the aspirations of potential future managers helps them to better prepare for the role.  Registered managers are highly skilled, yet many report that they didn’t feel ready for the job when they first started.  It’s important that your next registered manager arrives in post with the skills and experience they need to be successful in this position.

  • Don’t leave things to chance

Whilst many services recruit their managers internally, promoting staff based on length of service or their achievements in an earlier role is unlikely to instantly result in them being a good quality manager. 

It’s common for managers to make the step up from another role in their organisation because of an opportunity or encouragement, rather than as part of a career plan.  Therefore, even the most committed and experienced staff will need to be invested in and supported to successfully progress into new roles, including care management.

  • Implement learning and development plans

Care managers require relevant experience in the sector and qualifications to be effective in their role, so learning and experience should be undertaken before commencing the role. 

Due to the complexity of the registered manager role, Skills for Care doesn’t advocate any shortcuts for those wishing to become a registered manager. It’s not a role that you can effectively prepare for, through a short course or similar.  It takes time to develop the experience and qualifications needed to be a good registered manager, so, we recommend that you plan for this and be realistic about the time it will take. 

We view the importance of succession planning very highly. We understand that, at times, people can be promoted from one role to a higher level simply because they were good at the lower level role. They can then go on to struggle in the higher role unless supported and given the experiences and opportunities to learn the role progressively.

Dave Large, Manager, Wirral Independent Living and Learning (WILL)

Our succession planning pathway originated from focus groups with staff who wanted to know how to progress.


A lot of our leadership and management training has had a big impact in helping our managers embed our values across the service. The training enabled leaders to have the skills and confidence to lead that cultural change which has ultimately resulted in higher levels of quality for the people we support.

Paula Braynion, Managing Director, Future Directions CIC

We invest heavily in the training of both our managers and their leadership team to ensure that we deliver quality care today and in the future as our deputies and team leaders work their way up our career ladder.


Suzanne Ratcliffe, Head of Learning and Development, Care UK

Succession planning for future managers needs to be part of what every regulated care service invests in.

Investing in future managers represents an investment in their services, staff and the quality of care provided. Evidence shows that the presence of an effective, well-supported manager has the biggest impact on the overall quality of care provided.

The costs associated with recruiting a new registered manager are high. Developing new managers and retaining talent can be a far more cost-effective investment.

With succession planning recognised as a vital component of sustainable care, Skills for Care now provides multiple funding opportunities to support the development of new managers and deputies. This can help you to keep the costs down when progressing staff through qualifications, learning programmes and standards needed to become a manager.

With better trained staff, you can deliver higher quality services. Highly-skilled staff are an investment as they need less support and are often able to work on their own initiative. This leaves you with more confidence in your staff and more time to concentrate on running your business.

Daniel Dutton, aspiring manager, Fine Futures

I saw social care as providing more progression opportunities and it was clear that Eden Futures was a really good company. Within the organisation, we have Directors and Area Managers who started off as support workers and who have been supported into their current roles.


Abid Ali, Team Manager, Eden Futures

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Level 4 Certificate in Principles of Leadership and Management for Adult Care RQF (part 1 of the Level 5 Diploma)

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Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management for Adult Social Care
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The main barrier is my workplace are not willing to subsidise the cost of the Level 5. Diploma.  I will try to explain how much it will help with the running of the home, but if I cannot persuade them, no matter how much I love the place, I would have to think about moving onto somewhere that will assist me.

Aspiring manager, part of the Skills for Care Aspiring Manager pilot

Find out more about how to claim funding from the Workforce Development Fund here.


Skills for Care would like to extend thanks to the following organisations that supported the development of this online guide.

  • Amber Support Services
  • Age UK, Wirral
  • The Care Company Plus
  • Care UK
  • Cascade Cohen House
  • Ebury Court Care Home
  • Fine Futures
  • Future Directions CIC
  • Rose Court, HC One
  • Eden Futures
  • Manor Community
  • Old Hastings House
  • The Outstanding Society
  • Sense
  • Short Notice Care Services Ltd
  • Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
  • The Westminster Society
  • Wirral Independent Living and Learning