I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Verity Walmsley, the much-loved home manager of Gibraltar Nursing Home about her career pathway and impressive progression within Evolve Care Group. When Verity first joined the Evolve family in an administrative role in our Central Support office in Bristol, she could never have imagined the path her life was about to take.
Not only has Evolve changed her professional life and given her back her confidence, but her latest role in social care even transformed her personal life and has introduced her to some of the people she loves most in the world.
When Verity first applied for a job at Evolve in August 2020 she was feeling lost with where she wanted to go in her life, but as she stepped through the doors of our Central Support office in Bristol, she would find that was all about to change. “ The day I turned up for my interview, as soon as I walked through the doors at central support, something felt right.” She met with our Creative Lead, Sian, and her new boss, Shrien, who after reading over her CV looked at her and said: “You don’t stay anywhere long do you?” From that moment, Verity knew she wanted to prove that this time, she would.
In her interview, she was asked “Why Evolve?” Verity’s grandad who she describes as her hero had recently been diagnosed with dementia. She wanted to understand his condition better, but at the same time wanted to help others going through the same experience. There was also another personal journey Verity was on herself that made her turn to the care sector. “At 26 I was diagnosed with a condition called trigeminal neuralgia. It was a life-changing condition that I soon learned I would have for the rest of my life. I had already had many hospital appointments and brain surgery at this point, some good care and some bad, and so joining a company within the care sector would also give me a chance to give back.”
Verity says she remembers walking away from the interview, calling her Mum and saying “I really hope I get this job.” Verity was offered the role that evening and on Monday, she began her role with the Arranging Support team, who help people in need of care to find their forever home.
On Verity’s first day she was buddied up with Tracey who was to be her mentor. “She met me with her beaming smile, very loud Bristolian accent and offered me a coffee.” Evolve’s mentor system ensures every new joiner has someone experienced in the sector by their side to support them through their first couple of weeks and answer any question they might have. “I loved this role and all that came with it. It was long hours, but we were determined to reach the targets we set ourselves and helping as many people as we could find their next forever home. I will always be grateful for this role and especially to my wonderful sidekick Tracey G.”
The following November Verity was asked if she would accept the role of PA to the company director. “I said yes straight away and it was then that my confidence grew. It was in this role that I gained great understanding of the care sector. It was also during this role that I knew I would never leave Evolve.”
On New Year’s Eve 2020, Shrien rang Verity and delivered the news that all team members in care homes across the world were most terrified of receiving during the pandemic. Gibraltar Nursing Home was in outbreak. All of the administration team were sick with Covid and the home was in need of immediate help. Turning to the trusty team at Central Support, Verity travelled to Gibraltar for half a day to support with administration. “Shrien told me that I would be supported by Eve, our clinical director and Karen, the governance nurse would be there and that they would tell me what needed to be done. I had worked closely with them before, but the experience we were about to have together would bring the word “close” to a whole new level.”
Once she arrived at Gibraltar, Verity decided she didn’t want to leave. Half a day of admin turned into seven weeks of staying onsite at Gibraltar amongst devastating scenes and delivering vital care to family members both days and nights. Over those seven weeks, the home had seventy-two positive team members and forty-nine positive family members. “Those seven weeks were hands down the scariest, most heart-breaking, and rewarding weeks of my life. We lost ten family members to covid, five of whom I was with when they passed away. I knew that this would be a time that would stay with me forever and something we would never get over. I also knew that in those seven weeks I made two wonderful friends that I would have forever. Karen and Eve, who I now trusted with my life.”
As the outbreak was coming to an end, it was clear to Eve that Verity had built a great connection with the team at Gibraltar and Verity felt it too. Eve asked Verity how she would feel about staying to support the team as their Quality Engagement Lead. At that stage, neither of them knew what her role would progress to at Gibraltar, but regardless, Verity said yes straight away. “Gibraltar was special then and still is now. I dreaded the thought of leaving after the outbreak so I jumped at the chance to stay.” By March, Verity had moved from Bristol to Monmouth to support admissions and the team on the floor.
Verity put her all into her role as Quality Engagement Lead and was determined to make things better for the team. “When I arrived at Gibraltar morale was low and I wanted to change that. The team had been through so much the last few months and they needed a boost. I’m quite a laid-back character and so I think the team felt that they could approach me about anything.”
Verity soon started helping out in other areas of the home such as organising the rota, supporting the streets and even lending her hand to decorating and gardening. In January 2022, the home manager stepped down. It was then that Verity was asked how she would feel about stepping into a manager role. “I was totally flattered and so excited to see what the future was about to hold. I had managed before but not in the care sector. Although I had taken on many parts of the manager’s role for the past year at Gibraltar, I knew this meant that the responsibility was now more real than ever.”
It has now been over a year since Verity stepped into her role as manager, which she describes as the hardest but most rewarding role of her life. “Gibraltar will always hold the most special place in my heart and I am very lucky to have the team of people I have around me.” Verity now lives in Monmouth with her partner Sally who she also met at Gibraltar. “I am also lucky that I met her. She’s a huge support to me and my role here. I think it is fair to say that Gibraltar changed my life in the best way.”
We discussed the advice we would give our younger selves and whether we would have done anything differently. For Verity, her advice would have been “Be patient, but don’t settle. Be confident and stop obsessing over timelines because it’s never too late to make a change. The main one is: never give up.” She says her only regret is that she didn’t find Evolve sooner.
Just as they did with Verity, a young person feeling a little lost with what they want in life, Evolve supports their team members to see the gifts they have to offer the world and helps them achieve goals to progress in the care sector. “I have never felt more supported in a company as I have since I have worked for Evolve”, Verity says. “If you have a goal then they will be by your side when you achieve it and push you every step of the way. I am very blessed to have some wonderful people by my side.”
I asked Verity if she would recommend a career in care. Her answer was “100% without a doubt. Care work has been undervalued for years. I think when people look at the care sector, they only think of one role and that’s a care assistant, but even during my short time at Evolve the opportunities and roles that are created have grown hugely. Evolve will always think outside the box and find gaps as to where things can be improved. If things can be improved, then they will look at creating a job role in this area and hire someone to come on board and improve it. It’s not like any other company.”
Verity’s journey is a great example of the fantastic opportunities in career progression that Evolve Care Group can offer their team members. What she has achieved in just a few years is nothing short of incredible, and her family at Evolve will be right by her side cheering her on for many years to come. She is currently looking to develop and expand her skillset further and is working towards her level 5 NVQ. If you’re interested in joining an organisation that helps you set out an achievable career path within a sector where your work is meaningful, please give us a call.
Verity has one piece of advice to leave you with: “If you want to work within a role where you are having a positive impact on the lives of others, then it’s the role for you. Don’t look back, go for it, prove you can and you will.”