Introducing Julie, our new home manager
We’re delighted to welcome Julie Wills as our new home manager here at Ashridge.
Julie is highly qualified – a trained nurse who also has a humanities degree and a clinical teaching qualification – as well as incredibly experienced. Having wanted to nurse since the age of nine, Julie trained as a State Enrolled Nurse at Guy’s Hospital in London. She later decided to do a two-year general nursing qualification in her own time, while looking after her three young children. She followed this up with a BA degree in history, politics and the philosophy of race at Brighton University, while working full-time as a manual handling trainer at Eastbourne District General Hospital.
Her career has been extremely varied, encompassing hands-on and senior roles within care settings. She’s also worked as an inspector for her local council and the National Commission for Social Care Inspection (now CQC) where she managed a team of inspectors covering Brighton and Hove. She and her husband also found time to buy, run and turn around an ailing pet shop in Eastbourne. Julie was never far from care, though, maintaining her PIN and basic training. She worked part time at a local care home and, after selling the pet shop, rose through the ranks there to deputy, then manager of a care home in Eastbourne, steering the home through the pandemic.
“This was the most challenging time of my career to date,” she says. “There were times when it was truly harrowing but we got through it as a team.”
Julie left the home in April 2021 to work full time on her house renovation project before coming to Ashridge. She is already enjoying working with deputy manager Janice and the rest of her new team, and is revelling in being new as it gives her a vital fresh perspective on the home. Customer service is a key priority, as is building up the home’s family feel and its presence within the community.
“It’s very easy to forget that elderly people have had many and varied life experiences and hopes for how they wish their lives to be,” she says. “We respect their wisdom and experience, and want to help them to live their best possible lives.”
She adds: “Ashridge is such a lovely home with a good reputation. I want to build on that so that more people see it as the place to be! Alongside that, I want to ensure that staff feel valued, and that they all have the training and support needed to do their very best. I also believe in open, honest communication. For me, good nursing (and good care) is all about communication, while a sense of humour helps too!”
Outside work Julie spends time with David, her husband of 30 years who’s also a nurse, son Dan, twin daughters Gemma and Hannah, stepsons Ryan and Andy and her five “wonderful” grandchildren/step-grandchildren. She also enjoys reading (“everything from biography to romcom”), playing stoolball in summer, walking her two Jack Russell dogs and making jams and preserves. Going to see a film or a ballet performance is a favourite treat.