14 months as a Director for Adult Social Care

  • Laura Power-Wharton
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14 months as a Director for Adult Social Care

Maggie Kufeldt is a Director at 31ten who also holds interim leadership positions in the public sector. I caught up with Maggie to speak to her about her most recent interim role as Executive Director for Adult’s and Health Partnerships in Salford City Council. This included responsibility for adult social care, housing, welfare and public health. We talked about what it takes to work at this level and the key lessons she has learnt from her time at Salford.

Maggie has worked in local government for 35 years. Starting out as a qualified social worker at Manchester City Council, her passion and love for the sector quickly grew as she continued to progress taking on a wide range of roles. At Stockport, Maggie worked across health and social care as the Head of Older People’s service giving her a different perspective and insights into how integrating and working together could deliver real change for residents. She continued to work in joint roles at senior levels, taking on wider portfolios supporting her to diversify and consider new challenges. In 2018, Maggie took the plunge into interim roles, drawing on her wealth of experience and learning to drive improvements and innovation across the country. Her most recent roles have included a couple outside of local government working as interim Director of Health and Wellbeing at The Royal Hospital Chelsea and a stint with the Department for Health and Social Care supporting 14 local authorities in developing their Covid plans and responses.


So, Maggie, based on your long-standing experience in the sector, what do you think it takes to be a successful leader in adult social care?

  1.  People skills are essential – Working with people from different backgrounds and experience across all levels means you have to be a good communicator with strong interpersonal skills so that you can get alongside people and build rapport. This has to be done with authenticity so that people believe and trust what you say.
  2. A good problem solver – You need to be able to quickly work out where the challenges are and have the vision and ideas to solve them and put things right. You also need to sell that vision, being clear about what needs to happen, where you are going and what that means for the organisation and those individuals involved. You have to make it real for them.
  3. Lead from the front with the right people around you – While those skills are important, it’s the people around you that really make you a success. System and processes are written down, but they are enacted through people and any system is only as good as the people operating in them. To make a real and sustained impact, you need to build your team, so you have a group of people pulling in the same direction, committed to move things on and make the change. This can create the shift in groups of staff who then start working and operating differently while also making the money work.

While those skills are important, it’s the people around you that really make you a success.

I know your role in Salford has just come to an end. What have been some of the highlights during your time there?

I have really enjoyed being back as a DAS in Salford and have benefited from the strong political leadership. Salford is uniquely positioned, with adult social care being integrated with the NHS in a way that is unlike any other in the Country. By that I mean, adult social care services are integrated with the local acute and community health care trust, so it’s the level of integration and number of partners involved which makes it distinctive. Seeing the impact of a joined-up and cohesive approach that brings benefits to residents and pushing that on has been extremely rewarding.

My role in Salford also gave me responsibility for a large range of areas including public health, housing, homelessness services, debt advice and welfare rights. It has been great to bring all of those skills and talents together as a team and refine our offer to make a cohesive plan where we can jointly exploit opportunities.

Nationally, and for adult social care in particular, recruitment and retention are the big issues. Another highlight has been working closely with workforce development and HR teams to improve recruitment. We have not only changed how we advertise and the interview and onboarding processes to speed them up but also given managers at all levels permission to think differently about recruitment and what makes a good offer. The impact has been significant in terms of stabilising the workforce so that we can improve and build on the offer in Salford.

We all know that adult social care continues to face a myriad of challenges which can’t make it an easy area to work in. What challenges have you faced over the last year or so in Salford?

Getting the organisation ready for the Care Quality Commission assurance visit. These are visits that all adult social care services will be subject to. It required a rapid analysis of what needed to improve while keeping business as usual going.

Also, managing money in a system of high demand and increasing complexity while maintaining a focus on the whole workforce. This includes those in the provider sector, ensuring that these staff have the opportunity to learn and develop and be well-renumerated. It’s these individuals that are the bedrock of adult social care. There is a real risk of provider failure, which is much more common than previously, and the reducing number of providers in areas leads to a lack of choice but more than that, means we can fail on our statutory duties. This is why a focus on workforce is so key, both internally but also in that broader sense.

VCS organisations are often trusted places for people to go for advice and support and making sure those organisations are at the forefront of the adult social care offer and are properly commissioned is critical to having good prevention and also a more personalised approach helping to make the best use of limited resources.

Finally, it would be great to hear what three key things you have learnt from your time in Salford that you would want to share with other DAS’s or professionals in the sector.

  1. Join up with other people to work out the answers – Don’t just look at your areas of responsibility to solve problems. Tap into the wider network of people and organisations. We have seen real benefits of working with the voluntary and community sector over the past year.
  2. Be clear about your quality assurance and how performance is managed and improved – Getting the right performance matrix and governance in place to ensure you can keep everything on track is critical. Without these, it can feel like you take your foot off one pedal to put onto another. It is also key that colleagues at all levels in organisation have access to this information and understand what it means to them in their roles.
  3. Use the renewed attention from CQC as an opportunity – Being CQC ready means we are doing our best work, and we really understand our impact and how we can raise standards and innovate. Use these visits an opportunity to tell your story, what you are doing well as well as what needs to improve and support staff to understand this so they feel empowered by the process. Also, use the opportunity to support providers so they equally understand their performance and how they can improve.


At 31ten, we work across Health, Social Care and Education to enable big picture thinking and champion meaningful partnerships to achieve better outcomes for residents. We’re supported by a network of talented associates, such as Maggie, to bring a wealth of expertise to every project.

If you’d like to partner with us to tackle the issues you’re facing together, please feel free to reach out to Rahul on rahul.rana@31tenconsulting.co.uk