Great article from the Guardian, interviewing Zoey Lees, who is a registered manager at The Orchards, a children’s care home in Nottingham for five young people aged 11 to 18 who are on the autism spectrum:
We are just like a family and my day starts about 8am when I transport some of the children to school. Then I come back and do health and safety checks, paperwork and look at the rotas.
We have 21 members of staff so I do staff supervision, for example, go over some things with them and provide the opportunity for reflective practice. I also look at how we can move the service forward and the different schemes we could become involved in. It’s important to tackle the stigma surrounding learning disabilities, which is why community participation is vital. We start collecting the children from school at about 2pm. My attitude is that I can’t talk to staff about working with a young person if I don’t work with the child myself, so I do a lot of observational work.
We have a variety of after-school activities, such as music and Zumba; some children go skating, make contact with their family or go to Scouts. We want to teach children life skills, so they help make the evening meal, which we eat together at about 5.30pm.
After dinner, children choose their own activities until we get ready for bedtime; we may read a book with the child or talk about the events of the day, maybe give a hand massage to emphasise that we are winding down. The youngest child goes to bed at 7.30pm, the oldest at 10pm. I leave about 6pm, but I’m always on call.