• 14 October 2019
  • 16 min read

Care Home Quality Podcast - episode 8 with Tim Dallinger Registered Manager and Trainer

  • Liam Palmer
    Registered Home Manager

We learn how Tim went from providing support to starting a residential home before becoming a trainer and care consultant for local authorities.

Topics covered in this podcast

1.22 Introduction

4.58 What motivates Tim about working in the social care sector?

7.56 How Tim found his way into social care training and consulting

11.03 Family tragedy changed everything

12.21 Approaching the Care Standards Act 2000 with an engineers mind

14.17 Trainers who weren't up to the job

17.40 How to move from Registered Manager and speaker to running a care training business

19.56 Moving into the local authority training field

22.57 Tim's secret memory weapon

27.17 Conclusion

Tim Dallinger, who spoke with Liam Palmer our Care Quality specialist in this month's podcast

1.22 Introduction

Liam

I'm pleased to finally bring you this episode with Tim Dallinger. This was actually a second interview. I originally interviewed Tim about a month ago in Birmingham. I just came from my care home. It'd been a long day, so I went straight from work to interview him, had been slightly overdoing it which was my choice. We did capture the interview. It was pretty good and then I actually lost the Dictaphone and lost the interview. I was absolutely mortified. I saw Tim the next day and I just thought, "Oh my goodness, what am I going to say?"

Tim was very gracious actually and we scheduled for a few weeks later. He was actually on holiday when we recorded this but oddly enough I think by virtue of us having spoken a few times, having gone through his story, I think it made it clearer. I think it made his key points, his key takeaways, more poignant in some ways and I think it made it a better interview, so without any further ado I'd like to introduce you to Tim Dallinger, hope you enjoy it.

Tim is a professional social care consultant and business owner, so very warm welcome to you Tim. Would you just like to explain a little bit about what you do today?

Tim Dallinger

Tim is a professional social care consultant and business owner, so very warm welcome to you Tim. Would you just like to explain a little bit about what you do today?

Tim Dallinger

Hello, Liam, today I am a care provider. I run a residential care home in Wales and I am the responsible individual. In Wales the responsible individual is responsible for all aspects of compliance of a care home. I'm also a social care trainer and consultant with my training which is about 60% of my time. I deliver about 150 different courses to local authorities and the public sector. As a consultant I help care providers achieve and maintain compliance.

Liam Palmer

And those 150 courses, is that other people's material? Is that your material?

Tim Dallinger

The 150 courses I deliver are all the courses that I developed and designed myself over the last 11 years which is the amount of time I've been a professional trainer.

4.58 What motivates Tim about working in the social care sector?

Liam Palmer

Very good, obviously I came across your details on LinkedIn. I looked at your profile and considered the scope of what you do and I thought, "That sounds like an interesting gentleman" and once we met that was proved to be true. You know on the Care Quality podcast I look for leaders and innovators but also in particular with a values based focus. You're a successful trainer, a successful consultant and this is something a lot of people are getting into, so I'd thought it'd be useful to capture your story but do you want to talk a little bit about your personal values, Tim the man? You're a successful guy but what motivates you about working in social care?

Home Manager Career Guide

With Liam's help we've put together a complete career guide for Home Managers

Read our guide

Tim Dallinger

That's a really difficult question to answer, what motivates me. I like it and I like making a difference to people. I like making a difference to the people we support. I like making a difference to the people I employee. I really like making a difference to the people that attend the training course I deliver. Often people will come on a training course and they've been sent by their line manager. It's a refresher and I think that they deserve to have an enjoyable, enlightening experience that sends them away thinking and with more knowledge but also the confidence to put that knowledge into practice.

What motivates me to do consultancy is to help the care sector get it right. Often I find that my clients, it's not that they don't want to do a good job. They just don't know how to do something.

Liam Palmer

Got it.

Tim Dallinger

If I can enable them to get it right then that's for the benefit of all of society. When I work as a consultant I often say to my clients at one of my early meetings, "My aim as a consultant is to make myself redundant. I do not want to become part of your furniture. I want to enable you and your team to do this without me", so maybe in the beginning I do quite a lot of intensive support but the aim should be to get them to a stage where they need me at the end of the email or the phone, if they're in trouble, but need me to visit once or twice a year to do a service audit, or a mock inspection or a mentoring session. That's different from some people who want to almost make themselves part of the organization.

Sometimes I say to a care provider, "I don't want to run your care business. I've got one of my own. I want you to run your care business and I'll help you run your care business."

Liam Palmer

Yeah, brilliant. When we met you had a care badge on and I think that's probably why I was partly drawn to you, drawn to your portfolio in as much as you're ethically selling social care support, aren't you? I think that's worth a lot.

7.56 How Tim found his way into social care training and consulting

Liam Palmer

I think the listener's going to be really interested to see how you got into training, and consulting and what's brought you to that at this point in life, so we talked before the recording about some kind of steps and some dates. We're going to talk a bit about your story from university to running a training and consulting business because for the sake of the listeners I wanted to show what were the building blocks of your knowledge and also your motivation, how did it come about. Do you want to talk to us about that 1984 to '87 time, Tim?

Tim Dallinger

Okay, at the age of 18 I moved to South Wales. I went to... It wasn't a university then. It was the Polytechnic of Wales, to embark on a degree in Civil Engineering. It was a four year degree with a year out in industry.

In 1987, before I finished my degree, I got married and my wife was a social worker and we became the Adult Family Placement carers for two lovely people with learning disabilities. Those people stayed with us for about 14 years. Then they both passed away.

After a couple of years we discovered that if we started a small residential care home then we'd get paid three times as much per week to look after these people as we were just Adult Family Placement carers. At the time if you had a care home for less than three people it didn't need to be registered because the law was then the Registered Homes Act 1984.

Liam Palmer

Okay.

Tim Dallinger

So, it seemed a no-brainer. Let's start the care home. She stopped working as a social worker and we started a small care home for two people with a learning disability. At the same time, which was about 1990, we bought another house which we moved into, kept the original one and then we registered it for five people with a learning disability and we registered the house we moved into for three people. We were then able to look after eight people.

Incidentally, I still own both of those properties, one of which I live in and the first one is the care home I now own. After all of those years I still own that property.

Liam Palmer

Okay, nice, so you went from providing support to two people to starting a residential home supporting people with learning difficulties to then having two homes. Talk to us how that had evolved by 2001.

Tim Dallinger

After finishing my degree I went on to do research and I was still a civil engineer. I worked as a civil engineer but also helped my wife run the care homes. In 1995 I went to work for university as the link between the university and the outside world but at the same time I was registered manager of two residential care home because by that time we'd purchased two more properties and we were now registered to support 14 people across four services. My wife was the registered manager of two of those services and I was the registered manager of two of the other services.

There were many a day when I went to work for the university and came home at 5:00, went straight to a care home and worked the sleep-in shift. Finished the sleep-in shift the next morning and went back to work in the university because that's what you do when it's your business.

11.03 Family tragedy changed everything

Liam Palmer

Yeah, for sure. 2001, you're up to four homes. You've then been in social care for about 14 years if my math serves me. Then on the family side there was a pivotal moment that changed everything.

Tim Dallinger

Early 2001 my wife was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and on the 15th of December she passed away. I was 35. I was widowed. I was technically unemployed because I had stopped working for the university to provide care for my wife and run a care business. I had 14 people that I was responsible for meeting their needs and about 16 employees. On that day I became a full-time care provider.

Tim Dallinger

I remember thinking at the time there are two choices in my life. One of which is to curl up in a ball and feel sorry for myself. The other which is to get on with it, so I just decided that I would get on with it. It doesn't mean that I was not grieving. The curling up in a ball and feeling sorry for myself happened a few months later.

Liam Palmer

Naturally, yeah.

Home Manager Career Guide

With Liam's help we've put together a complete career guide for Home Managers

Read our guide

12.21 Approaching the Care Standards Act 2000 with an engineers mind

Tim Dallinger

At roughly the same time the Care Standards Act 2000 had come in and with the associated regulations and national minimum standards. I pretty much thought, thinking like an engineer, this is a procedures manual. Let's start at page one. Let's work our way through it and let's make sure we do all of these things exactly as the law intends.

For about three years I was registered manager of two services and acting registered manager of the other two services. I must admit the regulator at the time, which was Care and Social Services Inspector for Wales were excellent because they just left me alone. If I thought I was doing it well they just backed off and I had an excellent relationship with one of the inspectors.

They were happy to leave me alone but it couldn't continue, so I had to get other people to manage my care services and I had to start looking at how am I running this care business that's now my career, it's now my income, it's now my life. We did investors in people.

To be honest I mostly did it because you've got a consultant to help you run your business. I didn't particularly want the award or the slate plaque that you get in Wales. I had put the plaque on the wall mind you but I'm not really into awards and things.

Liam Palmer

Okay.

14.17 Trainers who weren't up to the job

Tim Dallinger

After looking at all aspects of my care business one thing struck me is that I was spending money on training and it wasn't very effective. My staff said it wasn't that effective because these people didn't really understand the job we did. They could train but they'd come, I talked to my staff who look after younger people and they talk about older people with dementia.

Liam Palmer

Got it.

Tim Dallinger

I thought, "Okay, I could do that", so I practiced on my staff, went on a local authority two day, train the trainer course, practiced on my staff, discovered I really enjoyed this and then I thought, "Well, if I go and get myself a proper training qualification I wonder if people will let me do it to their staff?" I forgot to say. In between I'd already been back to college and got myself a Registered Manager's award.

Liam Palmer

That's right.

After 17 years I'd gone back to education which was somewhat of a learning curve. I embarked on a two year PGC and at roughly the same time decided to start a training and consultancy company.

I have to say that without two things I could not have start that business. The first of which was the support of my wife because in 2003 I got remarried.

Liam Palmer

Wonderful.

Tim Dallinger

Without her support I couldn't have started that business and I couldn't run it today because she does all of the things that make what I do happen behind the scenes.

Liam Palmer

That's nice, partnership.

Tim Dallinger

The other of which is my care business because my care business was able to provide some seed funding. In fact, it lent my new training business £1,000 to get off the ground.

15.29 In 2008 Social Care Consultants is born

Tim Dallinger

In 2008 my training and consultancy business which is called Social Care Consultants was born. It's called Social Care Consultants for one very simple reason. That's what people would type into the search engine and it's the only advertising done was choose a domain name and now even now when I support new care businesses they want to call themselves Super Duper Care. I say, "But, where are you? You're in Wellington. Can't we buy the domain name Home Care Wellington and point it towards one of the pages on your website?" Because, that's what people put in the search engine.

Liam Palmer

Of course it is, can I just do a tiny recap on that just for listeners just because I was fortunate enough to ask you these details when we started recording? Just getting that chronology clear, 2003, correct me if I'm wrong, you did your Registered Manager's Award. Before that you studied the new legislation that came in. You're running your businesses and homes, working out how to do it because it's suddenly become a career that you're solely responsible for, so you did your Registered Manager's Award.

You did the Investors in People to get some coaching and training and obviously that whet your appetite in some way. You then did you PGCE to learn how to train and the idea of, yeah, training your staff well but from that came the idea of training other staff, other people's teams, and then five years later you launched your, officially launched your training and consulting business. Is that right?

Tim Dallinger

About right, yeah.

17.40 How to move from Registered Manager and speaker to running a care training business

Liam Palmer

Roughly right, perfect. That was 2008. We're 2019, so 11 years on. You're an in-demand speaker at conferences and you're booked up. You developed that business well. For those who want to start a training business or consulting business could you give them a little bit of a story about how you developed it from your first client... Not giving away any particular secrets but how do you do that? How did you do it?

Tim Dallinger

Okay, I'm not giving away any secrets and this is a story I've told hundreds of times. One of things I do is I go to schools and colleges and talk about life as an entrepreneur.

So, started the training business in March, 2008.

Didn't sell a single thing for the first three months, which is rather scary but remember I have a care business which provides me with a, and I think not a wonderful income but it was okay. I did, that what we would do was run some open courses, so I would hire a room and quite often in golf clubs because golf clubs in the daytime have got rooms to hire and they do nice catering in nice surroundings. Run courses and in fact one of the first ones I did was a course on supervision and appraisal. I decided that we'd get the punters in, so we do buy three places, pay for two. An organization could send three people on a course and just pay for two places. It's a fantastic deal.

I get maybe 10 to 50 people on a course from four or five different organizations. Clearly they liked the way I did what I did and they liked what I did. Then maybe one or two of those would say, "Do you do anything else? Will you come and teach our staff?" Then you build your client base. Over the next couple of years my in-house courses, when I went into care providers to do training, sort of overtook the open courses and so much so I'd probably not run an open course now for six or seven years. I'd like to but I just haven't got any days to do it.

19.56 Moving into the local authority training field

Tim Dallinger

After three years-ish, I thought, "Well, do you know I'm ready now to go and play with the big boys." I decided deliberately that I would get myself some local authority complex. Then you go enter the world of the PQQ and the ITT and you got to start tendering. That's a learning curve as well but once you've worked out how to do it, it's not that difficult. I now probably work for 20 different local authorities in the UK.

Liam Palmer

Really? Yeah, that's significant.

Tim Dallinger

Delivering lots of courses but also the people that attend those courses come from the local authority but they also come from the provider agencies that work for the local authority. Again, people come to one of the courses. They like the way I do what I do. They say, "Can we hire you to come and teach our staff?" Then it just snowballs, doesn't it?

In the early days we did a little bit of, to get people on the open courses, we did some mail shots. We did some email mail shots. This is in the days of before GDPR. I've probably not done that for the best part of five years. Another thing that I do, you mentioned before that I speak at conferences and write for magazines.

Liam Palmer

That's right, yeah.

Tim Dallinger

So, I facilitate conferences. I do presentations at conferences and that's an excellent way for a trainer or consultant to put themselves in front of the market place and I would say that every event that I do, it's not many. I probably do six to eight events a year. Every event that I do I'll probably maybe get three or four enquiries.

Liam Palmer

Really?

Tim Dallinger

They'll want to talk to me about doing training or consultancy.

Liam Palmer

Nice, yeah.

Tim Dallinger

Now I'm extremely fortunate that almost all of my new work comes from personal recommendation.

Liam Palmer

Excellent.

Tim Dallinger

I'll give an example. I've got a new client and they've got my name from the man that delivers the laundry consumables because he got it off another care home that I do work for. One care home told the laundry man, "You need to speak to Tim to tell your other clients speak to Tim because they're in trouble", so it was word of mouth.

Liam Palmer

Yeah.

Tim Dallinger

Often you don't find out where you get your clients from.

Liam Palmer

Yeah, got it, I see what you mean.

Tim Dallinger

Any tips, do it. What have you got to lose. Provided you've got a good product. Provided that you're confident in the way you do it. Provided that you know you're stuff. Provided that you do it for the right reasons. Anybody can do what I do.

Home Manager Career Guide

With Liam's help we've put together a complete career guide for Home Managers

Read our guide

22.57 Tim's secret memory weapon

Liam Palmer

All right and tell us a bit about your call it a secret power of slight difference in the way you are.

Tim Dallinger

My super power.

Liam Palmer

Yeah, go on.

Tim Dallinger

Okay when we thoughtfully planned this interview we were trying to encapsulate what makes me special and it sounds really big headed to talk about what makes me special but one thing I'm quite good at... I'm quite good at taking something which is complicated, extracting out of it the important bits and putting that across to other people in a way that they can understand.

If I match that to what I think is normal but other people think is strange is the way I remember things.

I've got a really good, long-term, visual memory. If someone says to me, for example, what do you know about Huntington's Disease, I can then reel off lots of facts and figures about Huntington's Disease and they think, "Well, how does he remember that?" The answer is that I can visualize the PowerPoint presentation. I can visualize the research material I looked up. I can visualize the media that was in that course and I read the words off slides in my head.

Now, I can do that for 150 different subjects. I just think it's normal.

Liam Palmer

Not for me!

Tim Dallinger

I don't have a super memory because I will forget where I put something. I will forget to do something but for things that are in my long-term memory visually I can access that and in color.

I literally read words off pages in my head and if I think back to all those years ago when I did a degree I remember doing it then because what they used to say in the exam questions were, "Derive from first principles or write down the formula for whatever."

Why would you want to spend time deriving something from first principles? Why not just memorize the formula, so I would just memorize all of the formulas.

Liam Palmer

I remember, what was the seminar that I saw you recently and it was your birthday.

Tim Dallinger

Safeguarding.

Liam Palmer

Safeguarding, yeah, and there was a question about some and there was Jonathan the Barrister, Jonathan Landow, and there was a question about the law. Within about three seconds you quoted it verbatim because people were having a debate and you said, which kind of reflects this point about you being able to actually recall the words used which I thought was quite interesting.

Tim Dallinger

What's strange is I can only vaguely remember that experience and if you told me what the law was I could probably tell you again but I can only vaguely remember that happening.

Liam Palmer

Really? Okay, it was impressive. It was in about two seconds you ended the debate by saying exactly what the law said you quoted the sentence. It was good. It was good.

All right, I think we've captured that pretty well. Anything else you want to say to budding trainers, consultants or do you think we've covered it all?

Tim Dallinger

They can always connect with me on LinkedIn and I'll give them some tips and help.

Liam Palmer

All right, that's generous. Why not?

Tim Dallinger

See, if anyone wants to [inaudible 00:26:49] a consultant and they want some pointers in the right direction why not make a connection on LinkedIn. Then we can talk. I'll help them. I might even put some work their way.

Liam Palmer

All right, that's very generous of you.

27.17 Conclusion

Liam Palmer

Very, very good, very good. Tim, it's been an absolute pleasure. Thank you very much for your time.

So, there you have it, the interview with Tim Dallinger. What did you think? My thoughts were that he's an interesting guy, isn't he? At turns idiosyncratic, generous and authoritative. I felt he paid his dues the be the authoritative trainer he is actually. What I found fascinating about him, about his story I suppose, is about his move from being a provider to a trainer and how that journey came about, and how he learned to teach. I thought that was really interesting and how he devoured that quality manual at the very beginning as it turns our mind that kind of thinks that way I think and very well suited for the work he's doing.

In my view, Tim is an educator in the broad sense of the word. Having met him a couple of times and having spoken to him a few more times what came across very strongly to me was he took pleasure in helping people grapple with complex subjects and he took pleasure in them then understanding it, that kind of light bulb moment when they get it. He seemed to really actually enjoy that. I thought what was really good about Tim's practice was that he was very much about encouraging people to be independent of him. He wasn't trying to create dependence or be the kind of smart one. He was genuinely trying to facilitate their learning, that they could be better and for that I thought he certainly had my respect anyway, so thanks again to Tim Dallinger.

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About the author

  • Liam Palmer
    Registered Home Manager

Liam Palmer is the author of 2 books on raising quality standards in care homes through developing leadership skills. The 2nd is called "Leadership Secrets of Care Home Managers” inspired by several meetings with the Chief Inspector of the regulator, the CQC. Liam has been fortunate to work as a senior manager across many healthcare brands including a large private hospital, a large retirement village and medium to large care homes in the private sector and 3rd sector.

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About the author

  • Liam Palmer
    Registered Home Manager

Liam Palmer is the author of 2 books on raising quality standards in care homes through developing leadership skills. The 2nd is called "Leadership Secrets of Care Home Managers” inspired by several meetings with the Chief Inspector of the regulator, the CQC. Liam has been fortunate to work as a senior manager across many healthcare brands including a large private hospital, a large retirement village and medium to large care homes in the private sector and 3rd sector.

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