Nicole, Residential Child Care Worker
How would you describe your role of a residential child care worker?
Being a Residential child care Worker has allowed me to form some truly lovely relationships with young people, where I am able to experience new things with them and create some life long memories. Alongside working with young people, there is a good balance between maintaining the family home such as keeping it clean, doing laundry and making the dinner, and completing the necessary paperwork that supports each young person’s life. This gives my role feel more of a nannying role which I absolutely adore, however, it also has the added emotional support that young people require to regulate their feelings and behaviour.
What kind of activities have you been involved in in your role?
Within my role, I have been able to spend some real quality time with the young people in my care. This has included supporting a young person with their education and academic progress, to spending a sunny afternoon at the park with an ice-cream, and even going on holiday with a young person which for me, helped to solidify the really strong bond I feel I have with that young person. Being able to enjoy and participate in activities with young people helped me understand experiences and emotions from the child’s perspective which then allows me to offer the right emotional support to promote a wholly positive experience.
How would you describe a typical day at The Orchard?
For me, stepping foot into the Orchard every morning feels like I’ve left my own family home to spend time in another. Typically, it’s having breakfast round the table, doing the school drop off and pick up (or engaging in a great activity on the weekends and holidays!) and then having dinner before supporting the young people with their evening routines. The young person’s day is always a priority before then undertaking important jobs like the cleaning of the home, doing the laundry and completing independent tasks/daily paperwork.
Why did you choose to become a residential child care worker?
I really wanted to try something new after finishing university, and for me, this was ideal in terms of working directly with children and caring for them but also opening my eyes to the difficulties a child can face; it would teach me so much in terms of how to support children who need boundaries but with a compassionate and nurturing approach. It has already taught me so much in relation to what I am capable of professionally and also how traditional parenting techniques aren’t always appropriate – being able to adapt and offer mountains of support goes a long way in helping these young people and it is truly wonderful to see them flourish developmentally and as a person.
What ongoing support and training do you receive for your development?
The Orchard is truly overwhelming in terms of the amount of support it offers. Everyone in the team truly cares about each other, offering ideas and opinions to help mutually overcome any issues or worries that may exist. Fortnightly/monthly supervisions are always booked in and carried out so that I am supported in how I am progressing in my role. These sessions check how well I am doing, support my approaches and professional development, and also make time to help me if I am struggling or need additional help with something. With training, I have already undertaken a variety of days that have focused on safeguarding, ProActive Approaches to supporting children’s behaviour, and many important others. These training opportunities taught me so much and gave me all the tools needed to apply what has been taught to my regular work life. Together, appropriate support and training encourages my continual professional development and supports me as I strengthen my bonds with the young people in my care.
What advice would you give to people considering a career in residential child care?
I feel like this is one of those jobs that doesn’t actually feel like a job. Where in other jobs you may wake up and truly hate the idea of going into work, this is nothing like that. You leave your first home and enter your second, so if that works for you, if shifts work for you where you compassionate and nurturing personality is more of a priority than paperwork then definitely give this a go. There are several people like me where 9-5 Monday to Friday jobs don’t work so this is the perfect way of working without feeling like you’re going to burn out at any moment. Being loving, caring and organised I feel are the 3 main qualities you need for this role and you have them, then don’t hesitate to try something new.