A Day in the Life of a Residential Care Worker in PerthOn December 3, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
Hi, my name is Michael Keene, I’m a Residential Care Worker for the Department. I’m 29 years old and I’ve been doing this for about seven years. I think that there’s a real need for young people who are hurting in the community and being able to be a small part of helping that to me that just seemed like a very worthwhile thing to do. I love being a shift worker. Being able to go surfing in the morning because you’re working an afternoon shift or being able to go straight from the morning after a night shift and go have coffee with your friends. I wouldn’t know what to do in a nine-to-five job. So on an average day you would come into work, you would get the young people up, prep for school, so showered, fed, lunches made and then dropped at school. In the afternoon you would pick them up, you would make afternoon tea, possibly an outing say Kings Park to go for a walk or to the beach for a swim and then at night, watching a movie with them, and then settling them to go to bed for the day, so very similar to a family or household environment ideally is what we want to create. So if you start as a Residential Care Worker you can become a Senior Residential Care Worker, then you could become a House Manager. From there, it’s the direction you want to take, whether you want to go into training other staff, being a Senior House Manager, overlooking House Managers. One of the biggest challenges is the perception in the community that these are naughty people. These kids have suffered complex trauma. A smack is not going to fix them, that’s not what they need. They need to be loved and cared about and so it’s difficult at times. They’ve genuinely suffered in their lives. Watching that, it’s painful sometimes to hear what they’ve been through and to know that there’s nothing you can do to fix what’s already happened but just to hope that you can be a part of the solution to helping them heal. In terms of my co-workers, we would automatically be checking in with each other just to see if you’re okay; as simple as “how are you?” You have supervision shifts with your House Manager regularly so that you can check in, there’s a house Psychologist who’s available for you to speak with, if you need counseling it’s always available. It’s very important to be checking in if you’re not okay. Looking after yourselves a very important thing as well because this is challenging. I’m a dancer and an acrobat. That’s what allows me to keep perspective on my life as well as having something that makes me happy, so that I don’t rely on work to be my happiness. It’s what keeps me fresh, what keeps me balanced, having friends that do the same thing and pushing myself to succeed, makes me feel accomplished. At the moment working with young people is still absolutely something that I want to be doing. In the future maybe looking at training other staff; how to do our jobs, how to how to deal with challenging behaviors and so the better we can equip staff to deal with that, the better they can do their jobs. I think what you can see from time to time it can be heartbreaking. There’s not another word for it that would adequately describe what you can see. But all you can take from that is that you can be there for them then and that’s that’s the best you can do. It might not be enough, but that you can try. And I think that when you come out the other side of that you come to realize how much they need to be loved and cared about and how easy those things are to do and yet, it’s all that’s missing.