Meet Ian Cole, the General Manager of Willingdon Park Manor

22nd June, 2023

We recently caught up with General Manager of Willingdon Park Manor, Ian Cole, to find out what he enjoys about his role, his unusual route into care and how he winds down outside of work.

Share this post

Ian Cole the General Manager of Willingdon Park Manor

We recently caught up with General Manager of Willingdon Park Manor, Ian Cole, to find out what he enjoys about his role, his unusual route into care and how he winds down outside of work.

Share this post

What does the role of General Manager entail?

The Home Manager is legally responsible and accountable to ensure the service is running in accordance with the various laws pertaining to running the home – primarily, regulation from the CQC. Of equal importance, the health and safety management of the building and all the safety regulations relating to it.

As a Home Manager, we are responsible for all aspects of the day-to-day operations within the care setting, including recruiting and managing the team, managing budgets and ensuring that the quality of the services provided meets national care standards. Building relationships with residents and their families.

And most important of all, Integrity is the foundation on which our communities are built. We honour the word we give, doing what we say we will do and being true to who we say we are. Fun! We love who we are, what we do and the impact we have on ourselves and others. We enjoy each step of our remarkable journey!

How and why did you start working in the care industry?

My route into care was very diverse. After working in the print industry where I completed my apprenticeship as a Planner Platemaker on large format lithographic. I then worked within the theatre industry producing all the brochures, programmes, and posters for all the large West End shows for Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh. Whilst running the factory, I learnt the regulations surrounding health and safety and facilities. This is how I found myself in the care sector, on the facilities/maintenance route. As my knowledge and interest grew, I found myself being involved in many different roles within the care industry and in areas which pushed the boundaries of learning, but as you will find in Care, there are many people who are happy to support and encourage you to succeed and I have been very fortunate to work with many of those. Hopefully this has allowed me to become one of those individuals that pushes people to achieve their full potential.

What qualifications do you need?

As you progress through care the levels change, I started with Health & Safety NEBOSH qualifications before moving onto becoming a Moving and Handling trainer. That was the starting point and then over the next 10 years with various training and studying with Southampton University, I obtained my Level 5 in Care Management.

A great deal of knowledge and understanding has come from the ‘University of Life’.  I have the skills to be able to deal with people’s concerns with empathy, compassion and an understanding. Most of all, I like to have fun at work!

What do you think the most common misconception of care is?

Without being morbid, people have this notion that a move into care means it’s the end of people’s lives. At Hallmark we look at it as the beginning of a new chapter. We embrace the opportunity to make a difference as an expression of who we are. We encourage creativity, ingenuity and the entrepreneurial spirit and celebrate our accomplishments along the way. Within our homes, we encourage open communication between residents and our care team, giving both an insight and understanding of each other’s backgrounds. We also provide a variety of activities, including arts and crafts and games and the more unusual zoo visits and team building activities. We are also open to frequent visitors and host a variety of events for residents and their families including day trips, to help them gain new experiences. We encourage all our residents to have meaningful, fun filled days.

What should people know before moving into care?

It’s a new way of life moving in to a care home, especially for those who have not downsized from a family home. It’s a huge step having to move into essentially one room, and share a building with strangers.

We work with the residents, their family, and friends, to ensure that the transition is as smooth and stress-free as possible. We see the home as a place which accommodates people. What makes it a ‘home’ is what goes on and how we encourage the residents to enjoy and embrace the next phase of their lives.

Encouraging residents to remain as independent as possible is of great importance. A move in to care is not about taking everything away from them, but supporting them safely do the things that they want to continue to do.

What do you think is the best aspect of Willingdon Park Manor?

Willingdon Park Manor will be like no other home in Eastbourne. The overall footprint of the building is of great scale, meaning that there are plenty of communal areas for everyone to enjoy. State of art technology within our sector, sets up apart from others.

We have an amazing team building, who already have decades of knowledge and experience between them. We can’t wait for it to be finished so that we can welcome it’s first residents.

How do you spend your free time?

A good life balance is vital as a General Manager. You need to be ale to take time out and switch off – not always easy! I am very fortunate working for Hallmark, which makes it so much easier. I do love my golf even if it doesn’t love me sometimes. I am very fortunate to be a member of a club with a lot of great friends who understand that my role keeps me away from always being there. My love of golf allows me to travel around the world playing some amazing courses.