When Reggie Ballos joined Royal Star & Garter as a Nurse in 2009, she didn’t realise the impact the charity would have on her professional and personal life. Now, after rising through the ranks and working at all three Homes, she has been confirmed as the High Wycombe Home Manager. Here, as part of International Nurses Day, she looks back on the past 13 years.
In 2009, I saw an advert for a Nurse’s position at Royal Star & Garter in Solihull advertised in the RCN (Royal College of Nursing) magazine. I applied and got the job and I’ve loved working for Royal Star & Garter from the very beginning. I started in the Roundel dementia care household, and worked there until 2016. This included working three years on nights, and after that I felt I needed a change, something different. I was enjoying being a Nurse but I wanted more, I wanted to support my colleagues as well. So I successfully applied to be a Lead Nurse.
In 2018, I was offered the opportunity to work as the Dementia Care Manager in Surbiton, providing maternity cover. I grabbed the opportunity as I wanted to develop as a leader and I relish a new challenge. As a Nurse I had different options – and I could have gone back to working in hospitals – but I had already embraced the values and culture of Royal Star & Garter and thought moving to Surbiton would allow me to explore what else I could do and how far I could push myself. I initially worried that I wouldn’t be able to do the job, but becoming a Dementia Care Manager was an experience that led me to think maybe I can do some more to support the residents living with us.
By this time, I was really interested in what was happening in High Wycombe and I wanted to be part of the team that opened our new Home there. I wanted to experience it and help create a stimulating and dementia-friendly environment for people. In February 2019 I joined the team and since then I have felt so lucky to work there and thoroughly enjoyed it from the beginning.
When I became interim Home Manager I was surprised and excited. It came at a difficult time in the middle of a pandemic and I knew it was going to be a challenge. But I was fortunate with the team that I have and all the support they give me. Then becoming the registered Home Manager felt like the next part of my journey with the charity. Of course it is a privilege, but working for Royal Star & Garter has always been a privilege for me from the very start.
The support I’ve had from Royal Star & Garter has always been amazing, and I can’t thank the team here enough for that. I’ve always been encouraged to train and progress and develop my career. In 2012, I completed some mentoring training and was then able to support military nursing students. I was then given the opportunity to deliver and promote our new model of dementia care in Solihull, and later in Surbiton and High Wycombe. I have also completed a Team Leader Supervisor apprenticeship and now I’m doing my Level Five Diploma in Leadership and Management in Adult Care. Royal Star & Garter believes in and invests in its staff. I think that’s why so many people stay here, because they feel valued and have the opportunity to progress their careers.
I also feel I’m lucky at High Wycombe. The staff are amazing and they work so hard. The respect they have for each other is so visible, and they embrace our values, creating a family-feel environment for the residents and themselves.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work in all three Homes. I worked with different managers who were all inspiring leaders. I got to learn from their strengths and leadership style which gave me the chance to build my own. Each Home is unique, with its own personality, but they’re all Royal Star & Garter and all have the same values and the same culture. Our Homes are special. They are family-orientated. They are full of history, full of courage, and have a long tradition of providing exceptional person-centred care.
The opportunity that Royal Star & Garter has given me has helped me find myself and who I really want to be. I want to create something and give back because of the opportunities that have been given to me. As Home Manager, I will do the best I can to repay that trust.