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Mayfield & Framfield — East Sussex 01435 872 201

Making the change from education to residential care. 

We’re glad to have you on board Julie, can you remember what made you make the decision to join us?

I have worked with children and young people for the last 23 years; however, it has mainly been within an educational setting.  During this time, I supported young people that had had a range of needs, from neurotypical young people to those with complex needs such as autism. 

In Easter 2022 I decided to take a slightly different path and come into the care sector. I wanted a new challenge and saw the job advertised at Mayfield Children’s Home which I liked the sound of. After interviewing, I was pleased to be offered a job, but I had some small reservations as I had heard so many negative comments about the care sector. I liked the ‘feel’ of Mayfield Children’s Home and loved the idea of making a difference to children who were living in a children’s home and felt that I had the skills to be able to support the young people at Mayfield and that I would be able to make up my own mind if there were going to be any down sides to working in the care sector.

How would you describe your role as a residential childcare practitioner at Mayfield Children’s Home?

My role is so diverse, there are so many different tasks to do throughout the day and no two days are ever the same. 

When people ask me what I do for a living the only way I can explain it is ‘I’m a professional mum’, as that’s how I see it, I come to work and I do what all mums do and make sure the young people are nurtured, fed, made to feel safe and well cared for.  I support them in all aspects of their life, from their daily routines, to making them nutritious meals, tidying their rooms and the home they live in.  I also support them when we go out into the community to engage with activities, this could be anything from swimming to going to a car boot fair. 

The other side to my role is admin, collecting data and reports so we can track and monitor the young peoples’ achievements and trends in behaviours which helps the team identify any triggers to their behaviour which in turn, supports us in supporting them.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The best thing for me is seeing how I can make a difference; I have seen some of the positive changes that have happened in some of the young people and I like to think that I have contributed to that.

Teamwork is important in this setting; communication is paramount to make sure that we achieve the best for each individual young person.  My colleagues at Mayfield Children’s Home make a great team and I love to see that when people communicate and are all singing from the same hymn sheet, the more settled and happier the young people are, it also brings a sense of being part of a family.

What’s your priority when you get to work each shift?

My priority when I first arrive is to go and say hi to the young person I will be supporting during my shift.  I make sure they are happy before we continue with the day or afternoon, I listen to their news, have a cuddle, or have a sing song, the young people respond well to playfulness and that’s how I am with them.

Was it easy making the transition from the education sector to work in children’s residential care?

I think that my previous experience and training has really helped me but for the first 6 months of being employed here, you meet regularly for induction meetings where you are fully supported during your probation.

Due to PJL Healthcare having an ‘in-house’ training team, all the training you need is in abundance and all up to date.  If you feel you want extra training on certain subjects that will help you support a particular young person, eg Makaton; then this is available to you.  Skills are continually being updated and refreshed, I am a huge advocate for personal development and here at PJL you get that.

Now that you have been in the role for a while, what qualities do you think you need to make a good residential childcare practitioner?

For me, I believe you have to be a caring person and come with an abundance of patience.  I also believe that to be good at this job, you have to be a positive person.

What would you say to someone who might be thinking of starting a career as a residential childcare practitioner?

Do it …. it doesn’t matter what previous jobs you have done you may surprise yourself and find your calling!  Don’t worry if you have heard negative things about working in the care sector if you join the right company, it’s such a rewarding job.  So, if you enjoy a challenge, and you enjoy seeing kids thrive and be happy then what’s stopping you?