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Reflections of a Registered Manager: Managing a home during the pandemic

In October 2020, Chelsea Bryan took over the running of The Orchard, our children’s home in Somerset. We asked Chelsea what it’s like being the Registered Manager of a children’s home, the challenges presented by the pandemic and how she’s been developing the home.

In this, the second blog post of the series, she shares her experiences of managing a children’s home during the pandemic.

“In a sense, those working in children’s residential homes are the forgotten heart of social work – many government guidelines on care homes are not applicable to children’s homes, where there are different sensitivities and situations cannot be handled in the same way. For example, full PPE could be really frightening to a child.”

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has a huge impact on the staff at The Orchard – the majority had COVID-19, or had to work from home. This made it difficult to continue as ‘normal’, as the whole team couldn’t come together in one space during the staff illness, so instead relied on those members that were in the home. However, faced with the distance, the team pulled together and were incredible. While some of Five Rivers services’ (such as The Spires School, and the clinical support) had to close, the team were determined to continue as best they could, despite the restricted resources.

For the staff team, the impact of not having therapy for the children far outweighed the risk of having COVID-19. As a result, the team and home therapist continued to offer the children and young people in their care face-to-face but socially distanced, therapy. I’m so proud of the team – they were willing to take the risk, take referrals for the children to ensure that they were looked after. Regardless of their own personal safety, they put the children first.

At one point there was a 17-day isolation period within the home. The team handled the situation really well and continued to provide stable and consistent care to the children and young people in the home. We continued to support those that were isolating within the home, we called every day and offered support over text. We arranged two cooking days with Chef Ollie, where ingredients were dropped off. We chatted as much as possible and sent them treats such as takeaways and things to encourage them to get out into the garden.

(L-R) – Pizza Night; Lockdown Memories Collage; Making Mocktails; Cookery Demonstration

Despite the challenges over the past few months, there have been so many highlights… the phone rings less, so we have more time to do things. The team created a playroom, a therapy room and are in the process of creating a therapeutic music area in the garden. I always say it’s about making the most of every situation. It’s the best job in the world. We’re in the lucky position that we can still come to work and hug each other whereas other people can’t do this and miss the human contact.

By being together during this time, the team have got to know each other better. We bounce off each other and everyone truly enjoys coming to work. We have been able to co-ordinate and enjoy team building days and every Tuesday we all share a meal cooked by someone in the house during the team meeting.

Find out more about a career in Residential Child Care here.

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