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Residential Support Worker Career Progression: Meet Hayley!

Hayley Grover

We’ve got loads of amazing people here at Compass Children’s Homes. They all know how to make a change to children’s lives for the better, and are determined to show every child the love and care that they deserve.

Here you can read Hayley’s story, from how she came to work in a children’s home as just a part-time employee, to now being responsible for two homes! We offer fantastic Residential Support Worker career progression, and she’s a firsthand account of this.

Hayley’s Story

I began my journey working for Compass 14 years ago as a foster carer, which is when I discovered a passion for caring for children and striving to achieve the best outcomes possible for them.
While I was a foster carer, I took on a role at Compass’ first outstanding residential children’s home as a Sessional Worker. I had a gap of time while looking after different foster children, so I took this role as I was curious to see how residential homes compared to foster care. I also wanted to see if the homes were offering anything that I could transfer across in terms of things like skill and knowledge.

I suppose being nosey got the better of me and I fell in love with residential; the atmosphere, ethos and culture drew me in, and this was the start of my career in residential.
Shortly after starting as a Sessional, I quickly progressed on to a full-time role as a Residential Worker and became a keyworker for one of our children for the first time. This is where I came into my own, as I was in my element advocating for children. I was ensuring that our children felt they had someone in their corner backing them – potentially for the first time in their lives.

A significant part of being a keyworker is supporting children to settle in and build positive and healthy attachments and relationships. This initially starts with the child and keyworker building a trusting and secure relationship. Once the child has built this initial positive attachment, they begin to understand that the adults in their home are safe and love and care for them. This helps to build further positive attachments and relationships; with this the child can begin to heal.

I continued to develop in my role within Compass and was promoted to Senior Residential Worker where I helped support and develop another of Compass’s outstanding homes. It was in this home I found my passion for knowledge, ensuring that our children have the best opportunities available to them and supporting my colleagues in their progression and understanding of the role.

It was never my plan to progress to a senior role and this happened quite naturally – supporting my colleagues to support our children was like second nature and I wanted to learn as much as I possibly could in order to be able to support our children to the best of my abilities. I suppose a worry of mine initially was stepping up to senior, and that I would spend less time with our children, however this was not an issue and we still spent lots of time together. I got to plan amazing activities to do together, support with educational tasks, and have a more active part in co-ordinating this. Being a senior naturally comes with more responsibility, however I felt this was the challenge I needed after effectively learning the role of a Residential Support Worker.

I then developed further in my role and went back to the home I started at as Deputy Manager, where I was part of building an outstanding team. Doing this I was ensuring the high expectations and Compass ethos is met and absorbed by colleagues, ensuring outstanding care for the children in the home.

Following on from this, I became a Registered Manager at the home I was previously a senior in and successfully supported a relatively inexperienced team to achieve Outstanding with Ofsted. These adults have helped to form the core team and to continue to achieve amazing outcomes for the children we care for.

I then moved up to Senior Registered Service Manager for two of our homes in the south; although I’ve progressed and my career has developed, those same roots, ethos and culture are just as relevant, and the children are at the centre of everything I do.

If you want to find out how you can make an amazing change to children’s lives like Hayley, take a look at our jobs page. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have, so please get in touch and one of our friendly will be ready to talk to you.

Our new Residential GRACE Ambassador

Meet Michaela

Our GRACE Anti-Racism group has been working hard behind the scenes to make important changes to the way we do things in Compass. Garfield has now become the Lead Ambassador for the group, so we have appointed a new Residential Lead Ambassador.

Meet Michaela:
“My name is Michaela and I am currently a Senior Residential Support Worker in one of our homes and a Lead Residential Grace Ambassador.

I’ve worked for Compass Children’s homes for over a year now, starting as a Residential Support Worker and then becoming a Senior Residential Support Worker. I have worked in youth group volunteering for several years before joining Compass.

I strive for equality and want to ensure that each child feels as though they belong, it’s important to me that each young person or colleague feels accepted.

So, for me becoming a GRACE ambassador means that I will be able to encourage change and be a voice for others.”

We’d like to welcome Michaela to the group and we are so excited to see the amazing work she will do!

GRACE Anti-Racism logo compass community

Our G.R.A.C.E Group: Explained For Kids

Explaining the GRACE group to young people and why it's important is something that we routinely do.

GRACE stands for ‘Group and Regional Ambassadors Committed to Equality’. The group was first formed in 2020 and is comprised of people from across the Compass community – including your GRACE Ambassador. Everyone in our homes has a G.R.A.C.E Ambassador, someone you can talk to about advice or if anything has happened that you would like an adult to know about.

The GRACE Group is dedicated to fighting issues of racism, inequality, and diversity. The aim of GRACE is to make sure that members of our community are not being treated unfairly because of their skin colour or background.

GRACE gives advice to Compass on how we can be more inclusive. They want to make Compass a safer, more accepting, and more understanding place for all people – no matter their race, religion, culture, disability, sexuality, background, or life experience.

Part of the work that GRACE does includes speaking out for minority groups who are facing discrimination or unfair treatment. They make sure that these people are listened to and heard and have access to equal opportunities – as is their right.

The GRACE group also provides support for anyone who might need it. This means you can talk to your GRACE Ambassador about any concerns you may have about racism, inequality, or diversity.

Adults can read more about the G.R.A.C.E group and what they do on our page all about it here. You can also find out more about Garfield Meredith our Residential G.R.A.C.E Ambassador.

Questions Local Families Ask When Registering a Children’s Home

Registering a children's home is not as straightforward as some may imagine

When we look at new areas to open our children’s homes, we are often shocked at the reaction some people have. We can understand that any construction site can cause annoyance. It can be loud, it can be bright, it can be messy; but when people reject the proposal because of the ‘types of children’ coming to live in their community, it feels personal. Because it is.

Children and young people are let down every time a children’s home being built is refused. There is a lot of planning, time and detail that goes into finding the perfect location for a children’s home to be set up.

We have many factors to consider when applying to register a home, especially finding the right place to either renovate or build in.
We will write about the important factors we consider soon, but for now, here are a few FAQs we are asked at things like parish council meetings by locals.

“What if they leave the house?”

Children over ten years of age are allowed to leave their home. This is the same for children in our care. However, like any family, should a child leave the house, unless the parents or in this case carers believe that the child is safe to leave home unaccompanied, can act responsibly, can use public transport, understands road safety, and can keep in touch with the home, the parents would be unlikely to allow them to travel unaccompanied. Just like you would with your children.

However, given that children over ten years of age can leave home at will, if the carers are not confident that the child can act responsibly, the child will be accompanied by a care staff member.

“How will the children be managed at the home?”

During day light hours there would usually be three staff on site so that the children would not be left in the care of one adult. A second question arises when a child cannot be followed by a care staff member effectively. It is then the duty of care staff to find the child, generally by following to places the child is likely to go, and by driving or walking until the child is found. Other care staff can be called-upon to join.

If a child was ever to go missing, there will be a protocol in place for care staff to follow that is individual to that child, considering their vulnerabilities and level of needs. In relation to this protocol the Police would be informed after a period, but not expected to bring the child home.

Should the police find the child (they are provided with photographs to help identify the child) then care staff would go and collect the child and bring the child home.

An additional question often asked relates to night-time absconding. This is extremely rare. Doors are alarmed so that any movement out of a bedroom is signalled, and windows are restricted.

Should a child leave at night (again this is almost unknown in many of our homes homes) a staff member would follow, and the home manager, who would live locally would usually come to site or another care staff member to ensure there are always two adults onsite. Again, it is the responsibility of care staff to keep an eye on the children until they are brought home again. Fears that children will roam around unsupervised are unfounded.

“Are the children dangerous?”

Perhaps we can start with the word children. They are not ‘feral’, ‘wild’, or ‘intent on doing harm’. They are not evil or bad. They are children who have been denied the chances freely open to other children. While there may be children who present a danger to society, they would not be placed in this type of home. It would not be appropriate, and Compass does not provide services for such children. We are more concerned that the children in our care may harm themselves.

It’s so important to remember at the other end of each planning permission request, and every construction site that is put up, that there are children waiting for a safe space to call their home.

If you would like to join the team or want to find out more about working in a residential children’s home, take a look at our jobs page here. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Meeting the Team: Hi Reece!

Reece Curtis

I joined Compass in September 2018 as a Deputy Manager. I worked as a Deputy Manager for a period of 14 months before becoming a Registered Manager at one of our services in December 2019.

In June 2021 I was given the opportunity to become an Operational Development Manager and took on projects including overseeing our Residential Homes specific intranet, the online computer system development project and oversaw developments in our specialist therapeutic services as well as training and development for our programme psychologists. In January 2022 I was then given an amazing opportunity to become a Regional Operations Manager and I am now the ROM for services across the Midlands and Southwest.

As someone who grew up in the care sector and personally going to a residential home myself for a number of years, this is a sector I’m extremely passionate about and wanting the best outcomes for the young people that are in my care.

I believe Compass are a company with the right values and morals and are extremely child focused. Compass offers high quality and outstanding care to all of our young people in our services and when writing this our homes are currently achieving good or outstanding in 97% of our children’s homes.

If you want to join a company who are child focused, passionate about high quality of care for children, and a company who will support your professional development; then in my opinion look no further than Compass Children’s Homes.

If you’re interested in joining the Compass Team, take a look at our available roles here. We’d be happy to chat to you about any questions your may have!

Healthy Social Relationships Explained

Healthy social relationships are critical while growing up. It’s important that you feel able to talk to and relate to people as you grow up, this allows you to share experiences, develop your confidence and know that you are not alone.

Respect is an important part of healthy relationships, and everyone has the right to be respected.
A respectful relationship is characterised by the following:

  • Allowing everyone to make their own choices and form their own views
  • Listening and respecting each other’s points of view – even if they are different to your own
  • Respecting everyone’s right to be safe, valued and cared for
  • Allow each other to disagree at times and say what they think or feel without being put down or hurt in anyway
  • Allowing each other to speak and make sure we are listening
  • Everyone can make mistakes and still be accepted and respected

Did you know if you experience disrespectful behaviours such as bullying from your peers, the effects can be serious? Including the following:

  • Poor sleep habits
  • Nausea or headaches
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Low self-confidence or esteem
  • Change in eating habits (under or overeating)
  • Lack of trust in friends

Remember you can disagree with each other without being aggressive. It is healthy and very normal to have different ideas and opinions, you can remain friends and agree to disagree.

Abusive friends may attempt to control aspects of your life. Dictating what clothes you wear, telling you what you think and what to say, and who you can be friends with. They may try and separate you from other people, so you become isolated and dependent on them. This is not a good or healthy relationship, and you should avoid anyone that tries to control you in this way.

Healthy relationships are built on trust and openness. Good relationships help young people to get through tough times and enable them to feel confident, competent, and creative.

Any form of violence in a relationship or friendship is unacceptable and should never be allowed. If anyone is violent or threatening towards you, tell a trusted adult immediately.

Following are some examples of ways that can help you create healthy relationships with your peers.

Understanding and empathy – This is the ability to feel for others, how would you feel if you were them in this situation? Try to put yourself in their shoes and understand others point of view.

Good listening – This is the ability to listen without interrupting. Try to listen to others’ ideas or problems.

Anger management – Think first before speaking and try to stay calm. Try counting up to ten or take deep breaths. Taking responsibility for managing your own anger will help you to avoid impulsive acts that are potentially destructive to yourself or others.

Resolving Conflict – Disagreements are very normal in all relationships, however there are ways to respond to, minimise and resolve conflict. It is helpful to try to understand and consider the other person’s point of view. Winning an argument is not good if it makes the other person feel hurt or embarrassed. A win-win situation, where give and take on both sides is involved, this is always preferred.

Honesty – Be honest with yourself and true to your own feelings. Allow your friends and peers to be honest with you without fear that you will react angrily.

Proud to be over 92% Good and Outstanding!

We are incredibly proud to say that our homes are rated a huge 92% good and outstanding across the country. 🎉 This is an amazing testament to our incredible teams who work so hard everyday to ensure our children and young people have the best possible childhood.

It’s always a busy time when we get the Ofsted children’s homes reports call. Our latest great results from Ofsted inspections takes us to an overall 14% better than other providers nationally, and we are 21% outstanding which is 6% better than the national. Basically, this means that what we’re doing is truly making a positive difference to all our children and young people’s lives.

If you aren’t familiar with Ofsted, it is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. They inspect services providing education and skills for learners of all ages. They also inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people, like our homes. We take Ofsted’s suggestions and reports extremely seriously, so we are thrilled to be able to say that we are achieving such positive results.

We are proud of the amazing work our teams do everyday, and it’s sometimes only when an independent body like Ofsted come in and get us to reflect on everything we’ve been up to. It’s safe to say that our staff in our homes and wider are doing an amazing job, and largely our children are happy, healthy and safe.

If you’re interested in joining one of our teams, take a look at our job openings page, we’re based all over England. You can also read a blog post about what it’s like to be a residential support worker from one of our team Claire.

Danny’s Snowdon Challenge 13 for SANDS

The SANDS challenge 13 is a big task! Danny is taking it on in an amazing way.
No one can ever prepare you for the loss of a child and it’s not something that is easy to talk about. No doubt we will all know someone who has unfortunately either been directly, or indirectly affected by this tragedy. That’s why one of our Compass family, our very own Daniel Bebbington is putting himself forward to do “Challenge 13” with SANDS. A charity whose mission it is to make sure no one has to go through this unsupported.

The challenge is to do something 13 times within a year. So, Daniel has challenged himself to climb Snowdon 13
times in 1 year to raise money for the cause. But to really push himself he has committed to carrying the weight of
13 babies up Snowden each time to represent the journey through life they missed out on. He is going to take some
rocks up the mountain and place them at the top, honouring their memory.

Please donate to Daniel’s amazing cause here.

If you could donate even just £1 to show your support, it would not only mean the world to him and his family, but to another family, who through your contributions and the charity’s efforts will be supported through a difficult time.

We are offering our support to our staff, and friends and family, that if they have been affected by this and would like to have a decorated stone taken up and a photo taken at the top, please reach out and let us know and we can arrange the child’s memory to be carried on the journey.

Trying Out Veganuary For The Weekend!

Compass Children’s Homes are part of our wider Compass Community network. We provide safe, stable homes for children that need extra support, whether that be due to challenging behaviours, complex trauma, learning difficulties, or sometimes all of the above.

In 2021 the Compass Community released our ‘ESG’ report. This is our report that takes into detail our Environment, Social and Governance within the entire organisation.

We are proud to be able to share our report with you, as this is what sets us apart from many other child service providers. We champion positive change, working toward ambitious goals, and holding ourselves accountable for the decisions and actions we take.

We love to embed our values in everything we do, and promoting a more eco-friendly way to live our lives is a great way to set a good example for the young people we look after.

For example, the month of January over the last few years has really been solidified as ‘Veganuary.’ This is a month where people up for the challenging of taking on a lifestyle change from the 1st to the 31st of January change their diet to a plant-based one. This includes no animal products at all, like meat, dairy or eggs.

Many of our children’s homes partake in what we call ‘meat free Mondays’ on our menus. This helps us to reduce our carbon footprint as individuals but also not making any drastic changes to our diet or living circumstances!

Charlie who is a Residential Support Worker in one of our homes, took it upon himself to give the children a taster of ‘Veganuary’ just for the weekend!

He said that “this weekend just gone we have all celebrated Veganuary. I have made fun displays and gift bags for the children and also put together a vegan taster night for dinner which all the young people tried and actually enjoyed some of what was on offer! We all had some great conversations about diet and different reason for people choosing to be vegan or vegetarian.”

It was really nice to see them trying something new despite their initial reservations!

 We’d like to give a huge shout out to Charlie for putting such a fun weekend together! We look forward to taking part in many more weekends like this to come!

If you’re interested in being a role model that change’s the lives of children and young people just like Charlie, take a look at our jobs page. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Compass Christmas Card Competition

There are only a few days left until Christmas! This winter, we held our annual Christmas Card Competition and were completely stunned by the talent and creativity we saw.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to our brilliant young people for participating and getting creative. Every year we are more surprised at every entry we recieve!

Here are a just a few of the brilliant entries from our children’s homes. There were so many, we wish we could post them all! ✨