“I want them To thrive and feel at home”

By Giovanna Pacitti.

I joined Care Visions in January as a residential service manager. I have worked in this field for 13 years now.

From a young age, I’ve always had a love for children and dreamed of becoming a nursery nurse or a teacher. At college, my lecturer encouraged me to do the higher national diploma in learning difficulties and then the degree. I felt like an eternal student… I considered staying on and doing my teaching qualifications – but having a child of my own, I thought it best to get a job, much to my increasingly anxious parents’ delight!

After I graduated, I applied for a job with Crossreach, at Ballikinrain Residential school which cared for boys aged 8 to 14. Going into residential care pulled at my heart strings and I could not believe how brave and resilient these young boys were. Their case files read of harrowing life events and I could not believe that these young boys could have suffered such early childhood traumas, and yet be here, laughing and joking, and getting on with their lives.

Obviously, at times it was extremely challenging due to some of the boys’ physical strength. It amazed me how one minute they could be so physically and emotionally aggressive, and then the next they’d be sucking their thumb, sitting quietly, and playing with my hair for comfort.

I worked with Crossreach for nine years, moving on to take care of 14 to 18 year olds, and then worked for another company which had smaller houses. Rather than living on a campus with thirty six other boys in five separate house we were in smaller houses with two staff on shift. Initially, I missed the bigger campus. However, after a while, I realised that it was so much more beneficial for the young people. The smaller houses gave a real family feel.

I got promoted to a senior youth care worker. After two years, even though I thoroughly enjoyed this role, I wanted more responsibility and a fresh challenge. I wanted to have more say in what was happening, and I also wanted to prove to myself I could do it.

I saw a vacancy at Care Visions for a residential service manager, and thought: why not! I researched Care Visions and really liked their ethos. I was intrigued by the Sanctuary model that we use and cannot understand why all companies are not using this. I felt like finally, someone understands these young people and what they have been through.

Also the Why Not? project absolutely amazed me. This project promotes continuing relationships in a safe way between carers and looked-after children once they leave our care. This showed me that Care Visions genuinely are committed to helping them. Throughout my career, it was difficult when the young people we looked after moved on. It was hard for me as an adult, so I often thought how this must have affected them: another loss in their life, another broken relationship.

When I was successful in getting the job, I was absolutely delighted however a little scared. I was given a brand new service (our term for a children’s residential home) to house two young people and staff. I feel responsible for my team and want them to be happy at their work. They know they can come to me anytime if they need support or just a listening ear.

I hope to create a warm and welcoming environment in the service where both staff and young people feel safe and secure. This is so important to me because I want the young people to thrive and feel at home. They can’t develop if they do not feel safe.

People always say that every person has a talent, I’m glad I found mine in residential care.

Giovanna Pacitti is the Residential Service Manager of Craigbank House