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.
Laura 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, I have an 18-year-old son, a 12-year-old stepson and 17-year-old stepdaughter, I have worked with and supported children/young people in a host of different ways. My parents were Foster Carers when I was a child/teen and I am aware of how a nurturing loving family can turn around the life of a child/young person in care.
When I was 18, I worked in Germany for some time as an Au-Pair to two young English children – one of which had a food allergy which presented many challenges of its own! I then took a complete career change and joined the Royal Navy in the Logistics Branch as a Writer. I spent some time at sea, however, never made it to anywhere exotic, unfortunately! My career lasted 12 years before I left to have my own family. When my son started school, I chose to go to college to qualify as a Pupil Support Assistant. I then worked in a local primary school supporting both teachers and children where required. As for the children, the support could vary from day-to-day. I would assist in whatever capacity was needed from helping with reading tasks and literacy to maths and science projects. Other days, pupils needed something different – some emotional support or just someone to talk to and help them to understand their own feelings and emotions. Every day was a ‘school day’!
I also worked supporting boys from the ages of 8 – 18 years with social, emotional and educational difficulties. Most of the students there were on the Autistic spectrum. This was a challenging role, however, very rewarding.
What skills do you bring to the team?
The skills and experience I have gained over the years from my various careers allow me to work confidently in my role as a Support Worker. From my time in the Royal Navy – I learned the importance of teamwork. No matter how strong an individual you may be, you are always stronger as a team and it is important to work that way to ensure wrap-around care for individuals, consistency and formation of a Secure Base. We all have different strengths and weaknesses and an efficient team will deliver proper care and learn from each other. I have developed a greater level of patience and understanding – essential when working with children and young people! I consider myself a good listener and have the ability to give appropriate support as required.
I have a good sense of humour and find that my humour can sometimes be a tonic in challenging situations – it helps diffuse some situations!
Have you had a low point? How did you overcome it?
I am thankful to say I have had very few low points. However, a word said in jest to a young person was taken out of context and caused a fracture in our relationship. I worked hard to repair this relationship and understand that time was needed and space to process on their part. I managed to gain the trust back and I am happy to say that we reverted to the previous relationship we had without issue.
What would you change about residential care?
No changes required at the moment – perhaps more exotic holidays for the young people and their carers!!! We follow policies and guidelines that are in place to ensure a positive living experience for each young person. They must always feel valued and listened to and that Tarvit Cottage is their home and their safe place.
What has been the funniest moment of your CHT or residential care career?
Too many to mention! I am a bit of a practical joker, so I’m afraid I’m always up to something!
What do you enjoy doing when you have some time to yourself?
I have two Labradors at home and I live out in the countryside, so I spend a lot of time out walking with them around the woods and fields. I love horse riding and take the opportunity to get out on horseback whenever I can. I enjoy spending time with family and friends and a have been known to throw a great party every now and again! I love karaoke too, and a good boogie!
What do you think is unique about Tarvit Cottage that supports young people in our care?
The Team – we come from varied backgrounds and have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. We all work collectively as one to ensure each child receives good ‘wrap-around’ care. Teamwork is important to us.
The ability to provide one-to-one care.
The surroundings – Tarvit is a beautiful little cottage surrounded by woods and walkways yet not too far from the town centre which offers many activities for our residents.