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The Atkinson Home employs around 60 staff who work in the following areas of the home: residential support, education, business support and facilities. We are always keen to hear from people interested in working with us so please send your CV by email to

Residential Support Worker role

We would provide you with a complete induction and continuous training programme to ensure you have a good understanding of why our young people are placed in a secure environment, the causes of the behaviour that you may see and how as a team we support the young people day to day.

Here are some of the core tasks that as a Residential Support Worker you would be expected to undertake:

  • Use a therapeutic approach in working with young people.
  • Be a good role model, including challenging unacceptable behaviour.
  • Day to day care of the young people
  • Provide activities – to undertake with young people in the evenings, weekends and holidays
  • Supervise family telephone calls/visits and record on our internal system
  • Work as a team to ensure all core tasks and any other necessary work has been completed during the shift.
  • Room searches and personal searches.
  • Direct work – day to day or diarized interventions undertaken to provide a secure space for young people where they feel safe to express their feelings.
  • Keep the voluntary log/running log and diary sheets up to date.
  • Keep all case documents updated.
  • Take part in physical interventions, which may be necessary where our young people are expressing violence or aggressive behaviour.
  • Take part in daily handovers and debriefs.
  • Work in partnership with both the case co-ordination team and the in-house CAMHS team.
  • Key working – managing the daily needs of our young people, such as do they have enough appropriate clothing, toiletries, are they aware of any meetings they may need to attend, visits from professionals or family, undertaking direct work sessions to help manage their behaviours and concerns.
  • Arrange with the case coordinator and take part in mobilities – these are activities our young people can go on outside of the home once they have been with us for roughly 4 weeks, approved by their social care team. These include recreational and educational trips out and work experience in the community where appropriate.
  • Being familiar with and work within the home’s policies, procedures and practices.

Our staff’s well-being is essential to us so we actively encourage open and safe discussions about the emotional impact our young people may be having on you. This practice promotes reflective discussions in team meetings and supervision which will help you to maintain your emotional resilience.

We use a therapeutic parenting model as the basis of all our work with young people. This can be challenging for you and your colleagues at times, especially when facing a difficult, sometimes abusive, young person. An ability to not take this personally and remain empathetic is essential as we avoid punitive responses whenever possible.

You would be working a rolling rota divided into AM (7.15 am to 3.15 pm) and PM (2.15 pm to 10.15 pm) shifts which includes working every other weekend. On each shift there will be a minimum of five care staff, a team leader and duty manager.

Sleep in duties are a requirement of the post and are recorded on the rota so you know when this will be expected. As we have a 24/7 duty of care to our young people, there will be occasions when you will be required to work longer hours than an eight hour shift to support your colleagues.

Residential Support Worker – a typical day

  • On arrival, collect keys and DECT phone.
  • Report to the Team Leader, so they know you are in the building.
  • Check the whiteboard for updates on the young people.
  • Attend handovers and debriefs to get and to share information on the young people.
  • Get the young people up and in doing so:
    • encourage them in their personal hygiene, for example, to have shower, brush teeth
    • encourage them/help them to clean and tidy their room – if a young person refuses to clean their room, this should be done by the staff member while the young person watches
    • talk to the young person about the day ahead and in doing so, encourage school attendance
  • Take young people to breakfast.
  • After breakfast, take young people to the lounge in preparation for going up to the school.
  • Take young people to school.
  • Be available to support the school if required.
  • During the day, use any downtime to:
    • get updates on young people’s care plans/risk assessments/behaviour management plans/SASH (Suicide and Self Harm) levels
    • complete any outstanding tasks required, for example, if any of the young people did not tidy their room
    • complete any required room searches (as per each young person’s current SASH level)
    • complete any outstanding and/or required paperwork, for example, diary sheets, incident forms, physical intervention forms
  • Collect young people from school at break and lunchtimes and return them to school afterwards.
  • Collect young people at the end of the school day. Stay with the young people – this is their ‘down’ time to socialise, undertake sporting, craft or other activities (informal), play games, etc. It is also a good time to undertake direct work with a young person.
  • Take young people for hand wash prior to their tea, then have tea with them.
  • After tea, an activity is undertaken with the young people. All Residential Support Workers must have at least two planned activities that they can undertake when it is their turn.
  • Clear up after the activity. The young people should be asked to do this but if they refuse, then it is the job of the Residential Support Worker to do the clearing up.
  • Prepare the young people’s suppers.
  • Get young people to their room at their bedtime, follow any settling for bed programs that have been put in place.
  • Get young people to put any dirty washing in the wash bag. Residential Support Worker to then take the bag to the laundry room.
  • Remember that the settling for bed routine for all young people should include ensuring that each young person has everything they need for the night/morning (subject to SASH level), such as toiletries, towels, toilet roll, sanitary wear.

Why work in Atkinson?

Do you ever wonder what’s happened to those young people who are reported missing on social media? Do you wonder about their story and where they are now?  Well here at Atkinson, we are privileged to get to know some of these young people as they come and stay with us.  Sadly, we know that many will have experienced a multitude of adverse life events and developed a deep distrust of the adults around them.  They may present with high-risk behaviours, with support services often finding themselves perpetually stuck in ‘crisis mode’.  It is our aim to see beyond the behaviour, giving young people and the system around them some breathing space, allowing us to see the young person amongst the chaos and the risk.

One of the most delightful things about working in Atkinson is enabling the young people to feel safe enough to play; often a rarity given their trauma histories.  Listening to screams of excitement on the waterslide, or the passionate calls for the ball on the footy field, or just the laughter that comes with thrashing their keyworker at a game of Uno, and you know you are offering a different perspective on the world and a different experience of relating to others.

Work in Atkinson is all about relationships. Relational trauma requires relational repair, which is why we use a model of therapeutic parenting (see work by Dan Hughes and Kim Golding) and specialise in trauma informed practice. http://Trauma Informed Practice for Children and Young People – Atkinson Secure Children’s Home (  Given the level of mistrust, we expect young people to fall out with us and each other but managing these relational dynamics is at the heart of our therapeutic approach.

The Trauma Recovery Model (Skuse and Matthew) underpins all the work we do.  We understand that by developing a sense of safety and security and building trusting relationships, we can begin to talk about the tough stuff.  Stories are re-told and identities explored; young people can begin to share their experiences and understand their journey as one of survival, no longer seeing themselves as ‘mad, bad, or dangerous to know’.

The starting point, as with Maslow Hierarchy, is often around basic, physiological needs; helping young people get a good night’s sleep, eat regular healthy meals and an occasional shower is a big win.  Over time, it’s wonderful to see moments of relaxation, with nervous systems calming and windows of tolerance growing.  Slowly, slowly there is less reliance on maladaptive attachment strategies with relationships becoming less volatile and quicker to repair.  While we may not reach the lofty heights of Maslow’s self-actualisation, young people generally leave us (metaphorically and often literally), a few inches taller.

As in all SCHs, we have Care, Health and Education teams all under the one roof and we take pride in our integrated working, which has also been recognised as a strength by Ofsted and CQC.  We understand how important it is to look after our staff team and provide spaces where we can think, reflect and learn together.  When working with adolescents who can present with high risk behaviours, it is easy for anxiety to spread through the system, but by working in a trauma informed way, we can minimise reactivity and maintain a sense of safety for the whole team.

It’s a real privilege to work with these young people who are at cross-roads in their life journey, and to see them grow in confidence, self-esteem, and hope.  While their next steps are not always easy, the relationships that are built in the home can help to sustain a level of resilience; I listened with pride as a young person once explained to me that in a tough situation, he asked himself “what would Jay (his Keyworker) do?”.  As is often the case for our young people, the seemingly little things are the big things and what makes working in the home so rewarding.

Senior Clinical Psychologist – Atkinson Secure Children’s Home

Devon Partnership NHS Trust

The closing date is 26 April 2023

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