I’ve been calling 2015 my ‘year of champagne’. Not only do I have lots of personal events to celebrate, but this year will be one of the most exciting in my career too.

As one of Anchor’s Commissioning Managers working on our project of new retirement property and care home developments, I had my first champagne moment on Monday 27th April when we opened Buckingham Lodge, in Aylesbury.

It’s the first of six new care homes (including two in the Bishopstoke Park and Hampshire Lakes retirement villages) we’ll be opening this year – a great success and a very proud moment, for everyone involved. It is one of two turnkey care homes, which are being built by one of our key partners LNT. It’s certainly been an exciting and challenging journey to get us to this point. Even whilst it was being built the new developments project team have been working tirelessly, to make sure it’s a success – it’s been a real team effort.

Despite the fact the care home was fully equipped and furnished when we took ownership of the building in February, there has still been two months of hard work getting it to the point of opening. We’ve had to recruit, induct and familiarise all the colleagues on site with Anchor's processes, the new building and everything within it. It was the first of the voice and data sites to go live and it’s been CQC inspected, health and safety tested, deep cleaned and snagged. The team have made beds, ordered extra bits and bobs, made it feel homely with nick knacks, devised menus and done dry runs to test everything. PR events have been organised and the sales and marketing team have been working on overdrive so we already have two customers living there.

People often ask me what my job as Commissioning Manager entails; it’s hard to describe because myself and my fellow commissioning manager get involved in all aspects of the new developments process. We’re involved from the point we get planning permission right through to when customers move in and everything in between. We project manage and co-ordinate a huge team of subject matter experts from all parts of the business to make sure things happen at the right time and in the right order. One day I can be dealing with interior design and the next with IT systems and applications, no two days are the same!

I have to view things in a holistic way and help colleagues to understand if and how their decisions impact other departments so that we have a co-ordinated approach. The four things that are fundamental to what we do are;

  • making sure the right stakeholders are involved in the right projects and everyone understands their roles and responsibilities 
  • making sure we learn from experience of previous developments 
  • ensuring that we have a proposition so all colleagues understand what we are trying to deliver 
  • and ensuring that we can easily fit the new developments into business as usual so that all Anchor’s support services colleagues can easily bring them into our existing processes.

Up to this point, the new sites have mainly been in the remit of the new developments project team. 2015 will see Buckingham Lodge and the other new care homes opening progressively throughout the year. Colleagues across Anchor will all be getting involved in the exciting world of the new developments as they transition across into our ‘business as usual’ estate. At that point, each should be like every other care home we manage.

By the end of 2015 we’ll have opened 344 new care beds and 275 one or two bed independent living apartments. We’re creating 650 new jobs – not many organisations are saying that at the moment!

You can find out more about the new developments Anchor are opening, including care homes, independent retirement living apartments and retirement villages here.

I am certainly looking forward to lots of exciting and challenging times ahead, but more importantly lots of successes, celebrations and champagne to drink.

Victoria Mager is Anchor’s Commissioning Manager

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