Rebuilding Trust as an Exceptional Leader

By Sally Prescott, Leadership Coach & Founder of Zest for Life (


Trust is at the core of all relationships. Without it relationships are much more likely to fail.

When considering the impact of COVID-19, the trust we have with our residents, their families and friends is crucial. Trust is how you build customer loyalty.

Many people during the pandemic have entered the residential and nursing care sector with the best of intentions but potentially without any formal training or background. New staff, untrained staff, maybe even volunteers with big hearts but may lack in skills, knowledge and behaviours. This means they may require additional support and guidance from their leaders and colleagues.

Building trust with your team is equally important. Without it how can they perform at their best?

As we emerge from lockdown, large sections of the general public will likely be anxious due to fear of a second peak of the virus.

It’s therefore critical that all care homes take careful steps to rebuild trust with everyone, including the UK government.

It’s important to restore faith and rebuild trust in your business from a resident and colleague perspective in a post COVID-19 world.


In order to build trust, we as leaders must consider our behaviours and our track record of delivering what we say we will. This includes adhering to legislation.


Our behaviours are born from our personal values, house rules or ‘how we do things around here’. Everyone has their own perspective on what right and wrong behaviour looks like. This can sometimes cause conflict and disagreement.

To avoid this create an outline of ‘how we do things in our business’, what we value. There are huge benefits to doing this, such as encourag- ing people that share your business values to become an employee, a customer, or associate with you on social media.

A values-led culture is a culture where people live and breathe the values and change their behaviours to align with these. Creating this kind of culture requires commitment and discipline.

Defining ‘how we do things around here’ helps to build confidence and reassures people that they’re likely to be treated with respect. When employees feel this way, they can relax and focus on what they need to do to make a difference within your business. It creates a feel- ing of safety and reassurance.


When people demonstrate the right behaviours and deliver results, leaders and teams build a mutual trust. This passes on to residents, family, friends and suppliers.

It’s crucial that the care sector restores trust in society. The general public want and need to see that all healthcare is provided at excep- tional levels. Doing the right thing to ensure they are safe and cared for as human beings. It requires time and patience to strike the right bal- ance between behaviours and delivery.

Ensure that everything you do as a leader is about setting your team up for success. Make sure they have understood what great perform- ance looks and feels like. Notice them doing great things, be specific when you share what you have seen, so they continue with this fabu- lous performance.


Be very mindful of other’s thoughts and feelings. It’s like we are start- ing out in a new life, where things are different to how things used to be. This can cause anxiety, confusion, concern and loss of confidence amongst residents and employees. As care professionals, we can pre- pare and be considerate of these emotions, always keeping in mind our focus on rebuilding trust.

With regards to watching behaviour, the first step is self-awareness;

recognising in yourself if you feel uncomfortable, anxious, concerned, worried or frustrated. Stop and think about what’s causing this and con- sider where you want to get to emotionally. Explore what help you may want or need to assist you, then take steps to access this. You are important. If you’re not calm, your team and residents will pick up on it. Residents and their families don’t want to step into a home that’s oozing anxiety.


• Resident and family satisfaction

• Colleague or team satisfaction

• Revenue or profit

• Legislation

If you are doing something that’s not related to these four areas, ask yourself why are you doing it?


People will enter your home with caution. Trust will only start to be rebuilt when they are received by a confident, supportive and reassur- ing team. When residents and families see the signs that you have adhered to all legislation, faith in your care home will be restored.

Be aware that people who are anxious or concerned may not be as polite as usual. In these circumstances, you and your team should remain calm, behave aligned to the values-led culture you have creat- ed, and respect the other person’s wants and needs.

Be open and honest with them about what you can deliver and how you plan to do this.

No matter what your personal or organisational track record may be, your challenge now is to take steps every day to make changes that begin to rebuild trust. Be patient and true to yourself and the culture of your home. Over time the results will show.

If every individual and team is calm and considerate, together we will deliver the results required for our residents, our teams, our homes and the whole of the care sector.

Create an environment where people feel valued in their role, they are recognised for the value they add to the overall success and great feeling within your home. This is born from Exceptional Leadership.

Sign up for all the latest news from The Carer!

Sign up to receive the latest issues, along with highlights of the latest sector news and more from The Carer, delivered directly to your inbox twice a week!