My Week: Leon Smith

The chief executive of Nightingale care home finds there really is no such thing as a free lunch.

Monday: Back to work today at full speed after an extended holiday, but that hangover feeling after a delayed flight home from my well-earned holiday, coupled with a heavy cold, did not make for a cheerful start to the year. The only redeeming factor is the success of Bristol Rovers in their third round FA Cup tie - they forced a replay with Premiership side Fulham. 

Tuesday: My morning sees a welcome visit from our new chairman and a chance to catch up since we last met. Lunchtime is the first opportunity to test the fare on offer from our new caterers - fingers crossed, their initial standards and commitment will continue after the honeymoon period.

Wednesday: The first meeting of the day is with staff to select the employee of the month. This month it is a member of our care staff who has worked here for two years and made an enormous impact on colleagues and residents alike. The award means an awful lot to the staff. We consult them on a regular basis about who they think is deserving. It's a small gesture, but it means something to our 315 employees to be valued and recognised for their good work and effort.

I spend my evening making a presentation to a group of prospective trustees who want to know more about the ways they could get involved with Nightingale.

Thursday: It's time to start looking at new fundraising opportunities. This morning I have a meeting with a company staging charity treks. The meeting is useful in giving me an understanding of how they work, and I'm in two minds as to whether I should lead by example by participating myself. Next up is a senior management team meeting, where we discuss issues such as whether we should take up the government-supported Ride to Work scheme, which encourages people to cycle to work.

Friday: I get together regularly with a group of 25 chief executives from other Jewish charities, but why is it that these meetings are always held at 9am on the other side of London? Travelling from south to north inevitably involves strategic planning to avoid the congestion charge and a slog through rush hour traffic. The meeting finishes in time for lunch at a law firm in Westminster to discuss the recently launched national dementia strategy. It seems there really is such a thing as a free lunch - it is a valuable couple of hours.

Nightingale is a south London residential home providing nursing and respite care.

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