We are sharing stories of how working in residential care can transform lives. By sharing the stories of the people who work in residential care we hope to offer an insight into the skills and experiences of our team and why they are well placed to offer therapeutic care to our children and young people.
Johnny is a Residential Support Worker.
How long have you been supporting young people in one way or another? How do you do this?
Besides being a parent (and grandparent) and raising two daughters, since the 80s/90s I have worked with, and supported children/young people in a host of different ways. I have been a church youth group leader supporting teenagers in activities which helps them acquire and develop social and team-building skills while increasing their confidence levels and feelings of self-worth and self-esteem.
From 1998 to 2010 I was chairman/producer/director of a musical/dramatic theatre group, teaching dramatic arts to adults and young people and preparing them for stage performance of varying levels.
In partnership with my wife, I was a local authority approved Foster Carer for 14 years and have looked after numerous children during that period. We were approved (through discussion and preference) to look after children aged 4-11 years but often this was amended to allow us to look after children much younger and older as necessity demanded, making us flexible and adaptable in our approach.
I was employed with a well-known Scottish children’s charity for a number of years supporting and caring for young people with physical and mental disabilities before moving to work as a support worker/student welfare officer in a residential school for children/young people over a ten year period.
As well as being employed currently with CHT, I am also a member of the Scottish Children’s Hearing System where I frequently sit on children’s hearings as a panel decision-maker.
What skills do you bring to the team?
I have acquired several skills and gained much experience over the years which allow me to work confidently with children/young people of all backgrounds. I have developed high levels of patience and understanding which are essential ingredients of being able to support young people successfully. I consider myself to be a good, compassionate and empathetic listener with the ability to give appropriate moral support as required. Having worked with children/young people with a host of complex and sometimes challenging diagnosis’, including Autism Spectrum Conditions, Aspergers, ADHD, Tourette’s, Epilepsy, Eating Disorders, Attachment Disorders, Cerebral Palsy, OCD, and Pathological Demand Avoidance, to name but a few.
What is your CHT or residential care career highlight?
I have experienced many care career highlights over the years. Probably the greatest feeling of elation comes from witnessing a young person who has previously been withdrawn and lacking any feelings of self-worth and self-esteem reach points in their lives where they begin to realise their potential and reach significant milestones which they would previously have never achieved. Moments like these bring feelings of satisfaction and are the reward for a “job well done”.
What has been the funniest moment of your CHT or residential care career?
I have a good sense of humour which is important to keep a good work/life balance. Young people often surprise you with their antics and things that they come away with to lighten the day with some laughter. I have had many funny moments over the years which have either brought a smile to my face or almost brought me to tears with laughter. On a school activity trip to Holland/Germany with a group of additional support needs children I was walking along a street with two children who were on the autism spectrum. On the pavement ahead of us we were surprised to see a pile of dog droppings in what was a very clean town. I warned the two children to watch their feet as we got nearer. Further ahead of us there was a very well dressed lady walking towards us and without thinking one of the children ran up to her, pointed to the offending brown pile and shouted in his best German accent “Hey missus watch out for that dog schizen”.
What do you enjoy doing when you have some time to yourself?
I love listening to music, watching football (red hot Dundee United supporter), writing (poetry and dramatic pieces), spending time with my family, DJing (been a wedding/party/events DJ for several years), going to the theatre (love the West End), genealogy (I have compiled an extensive family tree, and have discovered that I am related down the line to JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan) and being involved in several church activities.
What do you think is unique about Tarvit Cottage that supports young people in our care?
Tarvit Cottage has carefully assembled an experienced team of caring professional carers from a broad spectrum of fields within the care sector. We have taken time to gel into a unique, united team with all of the skills required to deliver a first-class caring service.