My job

‘Don’t be afraid to be a leader’

After 36 years working in the NHS, Stacey McCann is using her skills as chief operating officer at Belong villages

After 36 years working in the NHS, Stacey McCann is using her skills as chief operating officer at Belong villages 

What is your current role?

I am the chief operating officer at Belong villages, a not-for-profit organisation specialising in offering innovative settings and services to ensure a high quality of life for people living with dementia. 

I am accountable for the operational management of the established Belong villages, ensuring they meet our quality standards and objectives. I provide leadership and line management for the general managers to ensure appropriate support is cascaded through the organisation. 

Why did you become a nurse?

I trained as a nurse because I am a practical, caring person. I wanted to support people, to help them live their lives in the best health possible, both physically and mentally. I have always held strong values centred on care, compassion and respect, and I believe we should all aim to deliver high-quality, holistic care to the people we support.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I am proud to work with people in Belong, who are caring and thoughtful, and who always go the extra mile to make sure that residents in our care villages feel supported to live the lives they choose. 

It’s gratifying to visit the villages and see how the setting contributes to well-being, maximising independence for people with dementia while providing a warm home environment. 

How and where have you developed leadership skills? 

I have developed my leadership skills over many years working in various nursing, midwifery, health visiting, and commissioning and clinical governance roles in the NHS. 

In 2016-17 I successfully completed the inspirational and thought-provoking NHS Leadership Academy Nye Bevan programme, which led to an award in executive healthcare leadership.

How does your current job make use of your skills?

I bring my skills and experiences from 36 years working in the NHS, most recently in the central nursing directorate of NHS England, where I was the head of nursing strategy and commissioning. 

I have transferred these skills to my current role to ensure we provide high-quality care, posing the ‘critical friend challenge’ to the way the organisation runs and evidences good practice.

I revalidated as a nurse in 2017 and am proud to be a nurse first and foremost. This is a big part of how I provide senior nursing leadership and support staff at Belong to achieve the best results for people in our care. 

What is the greatest challenge in your field of work? 

It’s imperative that we raise the profile of care sector nursing and encourage more nurses to consider the diverse roles available to them. There is real scope outside the NHS to lead change, drive innovation and add value to the lives of individuals in their care. We really need to raise awareness of this. 

What inspires you?

I am inspired by staff enthusiasm, commitment and drive to ensure that people living with dementia have fulfilled, meaningful lives.  

What do you do in your free time?

I have a wonderful family, who bring me great pleasure and pride. I live in the Yorkshire Dales, which is a beautiful part of the world. Walking is a big part of my life.

What achievement makes you most proud?

Perhaps the achievement of my Nye Bevan leadership award at the age of 55. My family saw how hard I worked to achieve it and witnessed changes in me that I wouldn’t have believed were possible at this point in my career.

What makes a good nurse leader?

You need to be committed, a good listener and able to develop and communicate a shared vision and purpose. You should also have the ability to adapt your leadership style to face any challenge. 

What advice would you like to pass onto students and junior staff?

Don’t be afraid to be a leader. Everyone can be one. Think about leading change and adding value to care, and don’t be afraid to challenge in a positive way. If you identify a problem, suggest a solution. 

Consider a career working with older people. It is truly rewarding and the scope of responsibility in the care sector is exciting, challenging and offers plenty of career development opportunities.

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