“At 27, I am the director of nursing homes after having been a caregiver”

Danny Forster à table, dans l'Ehpad qu'il dirige en Eure-et-Loir.

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Posted Jul 7, 2022, 7:05 AM

“My parents had big ambitions for me and sent me to a private high school in England. I very quickly decided otherwise and I stopped high school in 1st class.

In order not to find myself without an income, I passed the nursing assistant competition. After this training, I chained several temporary contracts in Ehpads, also alternating with home care. My parents expected better for me. Personally, I consider it a fine job, essential for ensuring the health of residents.

If I do it with pleasure, very quickly, I realize that things are not going well: lack of means, lack of consideration from management for the staff who were not happy, lack of entertainment for residents who pay yet an exorbitant price. I am then in what is called a nursing home. I then make a remark: “This is what we promise my parents”.

Two master 2

I've been in the business for four years but feel frustrated. I want to change things. For that, I know, no other choice than to be at the head of an Ehpad. Only without a baccalaureate, difficult to resume studies. However, there is a way: the DEAU for Diploma of Access to University Studies.

Once this diploma has been obtained, I set foot again at university. I passed a law degree, then a master 2 in social law and management of the health and social sector. Then I do not stop in such a good way: I integrate Sciences Po Aix and I get a master 2 in public careers. I work in parallel at the tax office where I am dedicated to helping people with disabilities to help them complete their declaration.

At that time, I wanted to become a social law lawyer to help vulnerable people. But everything changes during the health crisis where I am marked by the wave of deaths in nursing homes. I change course to return to my initial wish: to become the director of an establishment. I apply and a group of retirement homes agree to hire me.

Abuse, a systematic question

Since then, I try to be a manager close to the people. I like getting involved in animations. Sometimes I dance with the residents, take them shopping. Rarely, I can make toilets myself if there is a shortage of staff… In the management of the establishment, I am supported by an assistant director and 37 full-time people to take care of the residents.

I think my experience as a caregiver is an asset in my position. I know what the staff is going through and I know both their involvement and the heavy daily burden that falls on them. Without caregivers, the retirement home does not run.

Today, nursing homes suffer from a poor image and I can understand that. I got to know a single caregiver for 14 residents. I don't want this in my nursing home. The families all have the Orpéa scandal in mind and they systematically ask me the question of abuse before entrusting one of their elders to us. Of course, we are not perfect either. There may be dishes that are not always very good, but we try to question ourselves.

I am 200% involved in my establishment, which I join at 9 a.m. and leave at 10 p.m. I deeply love my job, whether it is supporting the elderly, communicating with families or managing. There are of course difficult things that I like less, like the administrative part, the amount of standards and protocols to take into account. That's as much time as I don't spend with staff and residents. Nevertheless, I am overwhelmed when I see the happiness of the residents and their families.

Salary side, it is not extravagant. I am paid 2,600 Pounds net when other directors can start their careers at 3,500 Pounds. The establishment prefers to bet on the well-being of the residents. In the past, I was even offered a management position at 10,000 Pounds but I chose to stay because I wanted the freedom granted to me by the group to which the nursing home I manage belongs. Or rather that I was directing. I have just accepted a new proposal to take over the management of a Parisian Ehpad, with twice as many residents (130). New challenge! »


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