Looking for a rewarding career? How about caring for vulnerable youngsters Nathalie Antonucci

As a registered manager supporting vulnerable young people in Scotland, it is a privilege and an honour to be a part of their positive journey, delivering the best quality of care to those we support.

Working in accordance with ‘The Promise’, ensuring those children and young people within the care system are at the forefront of everything we do, is incredibly rewarding.

With this huge responsibility however comes a number of challenges in many forms. Organisationally we are nothing without our staff team, the people at the very foundation and heart of our care for young people. For my staff this is not a job, it is a vocation, where they are passionate in safeguarding all young people, giving them positive life choices and opportunities to be able to live their life they want to live safely.

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Staff recruitment and retention is a major issue in the sector, particularly when we are living in a world of Covid-19, a cost-of-living crisis, Brexit and other factors. This has led to a recognised nationwide shortage of staff in the care service, but I would encourage those with an interest to explore the rewarding opportunities available to work in this sector.

Nathalie Antonucci, Residential Manager for Spark of Genius, a member of the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition.

With the pressures and responsibilities of being a manager, it is important to look after the whole mental, emotional health and wellbeing of all staff, remembering to look after yourself as well. It’s also important to promote a positive working culture with a good work-life balance to maximise the best productivity from my staff team. We are nothing without our staff and our expectations are high for the rewarding role they are completing.

When managing a service, with the staff being the young person’s corporate parents, it can be challenging getting the staff team on board with some ways of working. Changing from old ways of working is always a challenge, often being met with resistance and differences of opinion. With robust training, mentoring, guiding, support and encouragement this can however be successfully achieved.

Reflection is a great tool I use when managing a service, asking myself several questions. Have I done enough? Have we done enough? Have we made a positive difference? It can be challenging ensuring that the staff team receive up to date training, arming them with the necessary skills and knowledge to feel confident in their job role.

We work collaboratively with multi-agencies positively in the ‘Team Around the Child’ approach, which ensures that children and families who might need a little extra support from professionals receive it. This can be a challenge in terms of following our own policies and procedures in line with other organisations’ views and opinions. To achieve this, we build and maintain positive multi-agency working relationships with other professionals, working together to get the best outcome for the young person.

I’m fortunate to have the opportunity and autonomy to manage an established service with full support from my manager and the management team. And I know that there is the opportunity for all staff to develop skills and knowledge further with robust in-house training. There is also the opportunity to acquire further knowledge through access to external training, colleges and universities.

Working with the right care provider, who provides the support, encouragement and management to develop is incredibly rewarding, providing the opportunity to grow professionally with an identifiable career pathway.

Nathalie Antonucci, Residential Manager for Spark of Genius, a member of the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition.

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