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Social services and healthcare

Karen Mack

My name is Karen Mack and I’m an inspector of adult care services. I’m employed by the Care Inspectorate and I’m registered with the SSSC.

I always knew that I wanted to work with people and I thank my grandparents in many respects. My relationship with them meant that supporting older people was important to me and I valued what they taught me.

My first job was as a nursing assistant (similar to what is now called health care support worker) in a surgical ward. The experiences and learning that job provided stayed with me as I studied to become a nurse, and as my career moved into social care and then regulation. I remember those who mentored and guided me, their kindness and positive leadership. Those experiences remain with you as you grow professionally and take on new jobs.

I’ve worked with the Care Inspectorate since 2012. I inspect older people’s care services including care homes, housing support and care at home services. I am privileged to meet older people and their families and ask them about what is important to them and how their care and support changes their lives. I visit people in their homes, which can include the family home they have always lived in or their new home that they have chosen for 24 hour care and support.

People share such interesting stories about their lives and what the care staff mean to them. People are usually very supportive of the staff and care about them. They appreciate and value the work they do.

As well as hearing about people’s experiences, I evaluate other ways the service is supporting good care. For example, are staff skilled, competent and well supported by colleagues, managers and employers?

I measure how the service is working for people in a fairly short timeframe. To do this you need to be able to communicate well and establish positive working relationships.

My nursing qualification has been a foundation that I’ve built on. I really enjoyed taking part in an NHS Education for Scotland (NES) training programme, Essentials in Psychological Care. This related to the Promoting Excellence framework (NES and SSSC) for dementia and is an area of interest.

More recently, I completed training called You As a Collaborative Leader (delivered by NES, SSSC and the Royal College of General Practitioners). This helped me understand more about my leadership style, my strengths and areas for development. Next, I plan to further develop learning around improvement methodologies. I am also waiting to start my regulator’s award which is a condition of my registration with the SSSC. This is the professional development award (PDA) Scrutiny and Improvement Practice (Social Services) at SCQF level 10.

The best bit about my job is meeting people and listening to their stories about how high quality care changes their lives and their expectations. When people’s experiences are less positive this can lead to difficult conversations with the service. It is important to have positive professional relationships with services so we all recognise that we are aiming for the same outcome which is people experiencing high quality care that improves their health and wellbeing. Our role is to support improvement. It’s very rewarding when we work with the people experiencing care, the providers and the staff team to bring that about.

If you are considering a career like mine I’d say that every day is different. Some days will be challenging, busy and demanding but that makes it interesting and rewarding.

The people you will meet will stay with you, just as you will stay with them.

Karen outdoors at a grassy area with trees

The best bit about my job is meeting people and listening to their stories about how high quality care changes their lives and their expectations.

Karen Mack Care inspector