Guest blog by Patrick Parker, night float manager

I am night float manager at Ranch Ehrlo. Our team is eight employees who work from 11:30 pm. to 9 a.m. on school days, 10 a.m. on non-school days. Working at night has its own challenges and rewards.

We backup direct care workers. Each evening there are two night float workers on the Pilot Butte campus, and two providing support in the city. We maintain hourly contact throughout the night. These calls are checking in to see how the evening is going and if there are any concerns.  From there we will make contact with the different homes and give the night staff an opportunity to do some night chores or help with supervision or just provide extra support.

We continue to circulate between the houses all night long. Some nights in the city we can put on 30 or 40 kms.

We know that relationships are key with our clients, but we also have a very short amount of time to form those relationships. Sometimes it’s only an hour of so that we spend with the youth before they are off to school.

Our night float team has over 70 years of experience at the Ranch. One employee, Darcy Mongrain, is Ranch Ehrlo. He has worked here 21 years and is one of the best employees and role models I know. Our whole team is skilled at making youth feel at home and has the ability to form positive relationships with several youths across several programs. We can recognise triggers and know how to problem solve and talk through issues and role model to achieve the best outcomes.

Often times we are called to crisis situations so we are often seen in a negative light from the youth. Our team does a really good job of celebrating positive times – having breakfast with kids, playing cards, and just acknowledging the success of the young people.

Working nights professionally doesn’t change your life that much. Myself, I’m a  night owl and I stay up late anyways. Many on the team like the night shift for the convenience. Others are attracted to working within different programs and having the opportunity to meet different youth and staff.

The main challenge is probably going from nights to when you are off shift and going back to ‘real life’ or ‘day walking hours’. Most of us have a pretty solid routine in place. It’s important to maintain positive self care. Make sure that you are eating well, exercising, and doing those things that keep your health up.

Even though the night can be challenging for many of our youth., there is a calm in the early morning hours. From working this shift, I have seen some of the most beautiful sunrises out at Pilot Butte.

Through this role I have also been exposed to so many programs at the Ranch that I didn’t even know existed. I have a greater understanding and appreciation for the work that is occurring here. We have great staff that genuinely care for the people they are responsible for and its quite a beautiful thing to see a youth that may be struggling the previous night, wake up in the morning and reset. They realise it is a new day.

In the end, our job is to build positive relations with youth and create great memories so people feel good about where they started but they feel better about where they are going.