#SalutingOurSisters: Grace Salmon shares her career story this Black History Month
06 Oct 2023
5 min read
- Culture and diversity
- Good news story
October is Black History Month, and this year’s focus is on #SalutingOurSisters – celebrating the achievements of Black women. In honour of this we’re dedicating our #GoodNewsFriday in October to sharing the stories of Black women working in social care. This week we hear from Grace Salmon, a retired registered manager.
I’ve been retired for seven years now. My last role before I retired was running a nursing and residential home, though I’ve had a long and varied career in social care before that.
I completed my nursing studies in 1969 and worked as a nurse and then a midwife. I also moved to America for a while after having my first child and worked in a residential home over there.
I started working as a district nurse back in the UK in the late 1980s. This involved providing nursing care for people in their homes, and also being that link between health and social care for the people supported.
From there I moved into management roles within nursing, and I moved to Canada for a while to work in a nursing home there. This was an interesting experience and gave me a taster of how things were working in different countries. I definitely noticed a focus on individualised care for the residents, and that really inspired me in how I moved forward in my career.
After two years in Canada, I moved back to the UK and did practice nursing for a little while before happening upon an advert for a care home manager, and so I applied and I got it.
What I loved most about being a care home manager was the autonomy that I had in the role and that I was able to create a culture of individualised care for our residents.
I always said to myself and my staff, “it could be me or you in that position”, and ensure people are always treated with respect.
I used to ask the families of the people we support to bring in photos of them when they were younger, so my staff could more easily picture each individual’s full life.
We’d find out things like ‘she loved to dance’ or ‘he was a cricketer’. I think it’s really important for staff to remember that the people we support are still the same people they were when they were younger and to tap into those memories.
Across my varied career, I would say my favourite role has been working as a care manager as it’s allowed me to combine all my experience from across different sectors and different countries and put that into practice.
Moving into management wasn’t necessarily easy, and I did face some rejections along the way. It was some words of encouragement from one of my long-time friends that encouraged me not to give up.
Sometimes when you're trying and you come up against obstacles, instead of focusing on getting to the end of the journey, you stop, and you start wobbling. That’s where I was, but she gave me the push that I needed.
And from there I lived by the ethos that I know my capabilities, I know I’m qualified, I know I have the skills and knowledge to do the job. So, yes, I faced discrimination, but I didn't let it be a deterrent.
For me, my proudest achievement working in social care has been having a positive impact on the lives of the people I support and my staff.
I always tried to motivate my staff and let them know, you might start off as a care worker or working in the kitchen but there’s lots of opportunities to develop new skills and progress your career if you put the time into training and learning, and I would support them with that.
I’m still in touch now with some of the people who I’ve managed over the years.
To anyone considering a career in social care I’d say:
“Go in with your eyes open. It's fun, it's an exciting journey, but it has its challenges. When you have challenges, always look for something positive out of it and what you can learn.”
Most importantly, you can have the skills and the knowledge to work in social care but what you really need is the passion.
Visit our Black History Month webpage to find a range of resources to support you and your teams in achieving equality, diversity and inclusivity in the workplace.
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