A Day in the Life of a Scheme Manager
It was a wet and windy spring day when I headed out to meet one of the Grange Scheme Managers. When I arrived at Palace Gate in Odiham I was greeted by a warm welcome from the Scheme Manager, Carol. Carol has worked for Grange for 12 years and manages two retirement developments.
Carol starts her day by logging on to the emergency call system, taking over from the out of hours call centre, Centra Pulse. She explained how Grange provides an individual service to their customers, asking each of them how often they would like to be contacted by the scheme manager. She explained "Everyone is individual, some people like a daily call from me to check they are ok, whilst other people prefer to pop in and see me as and when they need to. One size doesn't fit all."
The immaculate lawns and pretty cottage style boarders looked beautiful, and Carol explained how she had worked on a number of initiatives with the residents to improve some of the borders and areas. Her job isn't just about managing the gardeners and contractors though. Carol needs to carry out regular checks on the building and monitors everything from cleaning to building maintenance and measures to prevent pigeons nesting in the eaves.
As well as the technical side to the role, the "people" side is the area where Scheme Managers really shine. Carol explains "To do this job I think you have to enjoy meeting people. No two days are the same! It can be difficult sometimes as our job is to manage the scheme. We care very much but we don't provide care services. That is the difference between private leasehold independent retirement schemes such as this and residential care homes".
I left Carol and Palace Gate and made my way to Town Mill in Overton to meet Sally. Again I received a warm welcome and Sally began giving me a tour of the newly refurbished en suite guest accommodation when an alarm started ringing on Sally's mobile phone. She very calmly excused herself and left me in the comfortable guest lounge to look through the number of events that the residents association run and arrange, including a Wimbledon inspired strawberries and afternoon tea and a weekly coffee morning where residents invite Sally to talk about the development.
After a few minutes a very calm Sally returned and explained how she needed to call down the fire service as a customer had accidentally burnt some lunch and set the fire alarm off. I was really impressed with the way, in the event of a potential emergency, the procedure was calm and delivered with total professionalism.
The sun came out for a brief spell as we took a tour of the beautiful gardens which sit on the banks of the River Test. No site is the same and here Sally works closely with the environment agency to manage the river banks and ensuring good river management for the huge amount of wildlife in residence at Town Mill.
The words from Carol resonated with me as I reflected on my day - "One size doesn't fit all". The dedication and commitment of the Grange managers in providing their residents with a great service was something really special.