From The Military To Care: Gracewell of Bookham General Manager’s Career Story

As Gracewell of Bookham’s General Manager, Harry Garston’s journey into his current position may appear unusual to some. Although first serving in the British Army, Harry has since worked in three care homes across Sunrise Senior Living UK and Gracewell Healthcare where he has put his military skills into practice. Here, we learn more about Harry’s journey which as taken him from serving in Jordan, to managing a care home in Bookham.

Harry’s career started at The Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst where he was equipped with the necessary training for a successful military career. And, after commissioning from Sandhurst, he joined The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers which saw him serve in numerous countries, including Germany, Cyprus, Afghanistan and Jordan. He later left the Army to manage an Electrical Engineering firm before deciding that he wanted to change industries and join the care home sector.

He then joined Gracewell of Sutton as a Homes Admissions Adviser in April 2016 before moving to Sunrise of Frognal to take the position of Director of Community Relations. Speaking of these experiences, Harry said that “Sunrise and Gracewell saw some of the transferable skills I had (even if I couldn’t see them at the time!) and developed me through these positions at Sutton and Frognal.” He then wanted to progress into Operations, and was given clear guidance, support and training by Sunrise and Gracewell to achieve this.

As part of this development, Harry attended a number of internal courses which gave him a better depth of knowledge and was also buddied up with a Senior General Manager who mentored him through his training and continues to support him today. He added, “my favourite aspect of the development process was taking part in the Quo Leadership and Development programme and working with the facilitators to best understand myself, my team and how to get the best outcome for our residents.”

Harry was then offered the position of General Manager at Gracewell of Bookham in 2019 and started at the care home in October of that year. In his role, Harry is now responsible and accountable for everything that happens at the care home and ensures that everything his team does has their residents’ best interests in mind. He particularly loves spending time with residents to better understand how his team can improve the care home while also listening to their enlightening stories and remarkable life experiences.

He continued, “Sunrise and Gracewell is an organisation whose values and beliefs align with my own. These values and beliefs are not just words on a wall or a policy, they are something that are being lived out daily throughout the organisation. For me this is very important. It is also an evolving organisation and in the five years I have been here it already looks and feels a lot different in a better way.”

And, speaking of his career development at Sunrise and Gracewell, Harry said: “if people want to progress, Sunrise and Gracewell will support you but, like anything in life, you have to have the desire to do it and put in the work. I have been well supported throughout my career at Sunrise and Gracewell and our Leadership team take a genuine interest in people’s development and how they can support it.”

Harry now urges others who are considering joining the care sector from other industries to pursue their ambitions, adding “as a child I had only been into one care home to visit my Nan and I hadn’t even considered the possibility of one day working in one but now I struggle to imagine myself working in another sector. It is the most rewarding job I have ever had. I love being part of a team and I love making a positive difference to the lives of others every day.”

Reflecting on his career to date, Harry says that his experience in the Armed Forces is “without a shadow of a doubt” relevant to his current role at Gracewell of Bookham. He says that the skills he developed in team leadership, organisation, and his desire to help people in need, all perfectly prepared him for working in a care home. He added that the ability to assess a situation and then help the team develop a plan, often under pressure, has been the skill which he has since used the most. He added that, prior to joining Sunrise and Gracewell he had “struggled to reintegrate into civilian life and on a daily basis I would miss my Army days. However, I now feel well settled and I know that my career with Sunrise and Gracewell has helped with that.”

 

To find out more about Gracewell of Bookham, click here.

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