Patrick Parker is a night float manager at Ranch Ehrlo. He manages a team of eight employees who only work at night and move from home to home in Regina and the Pilot Butte campus. Even though the team has these hurdles in front of them when trying to form meaningful relationships with youth and adults, the CARE that they show is second to none.
CARE, Children And Residential Experience, is a residential model developed by Cornell University. We began adding the model to our existing framework late last year. One of the goals of CARE is to develop congruency across our agency, so that all staff are applying the same principles to their work in our organization and working together for a common goal of helping our clients.
Our night floats provide backup to direct care workers within the various homes they float between. Each night there are two workers on the campus, and two providing support in the city. What that support looks like is always different.
“We build relationships with several programs – from waking clients up in the morning and getting them ready for school. On weekends and holidays its spending time playing cards, or doing activities outside. Sometimes its helping them with their chores,” Pat explained.
Nighttime is a challenging time for many of our youth. It also brings different challenges to night staff. It’s quiet and young people are alone with their thoughts.
“That’s when we see a lot of those pain based behaviours, like running away and self harm behaviours. In those situations, the response is always the same. A lot of caring gestures. If someone is coming back from being on the run, you welcome them back. ‘Hey welcome back. Are you hungry? Are you safe? Are you hurt?’ It’s not punitive. We want them to know that they are cared for and we are glad they are home,” Pat stated.
Helping the staff in the group home with the wake-up process is also a challenge.
Pat elaborated, “You are trying to achieve two things that youth hate to do – getting out of bed and, sometimes, going to school. But we stick to the caring gestures. Humour also works really well to meet with some resistance.”
Sometimes night floats have a different role, especially when it comes to the emergency receiving program at the agency. The program provides temporary short-term emergency care to youth, awaiting placement. Often the youth that need this service need it in the middle of the night.
In one such scenario, all the beds in emergency receiving were full and mobile crisis called with a youth who desperately needed a place. Night floats made it work and found a bed for her on campus at 3 a.m. after many phone calls.
But their job is more than finding a bed.
Pat explained, “Most of the youth in emergency receiving are coming from unsafe situations or they themselves are intoxicated. It’s our job to welcome them and eliminate a lot of their anxiety and fears and letting them know what to expect.”
“It’s just part of that therapeutic milieu to make people feel comfortable in an otherwise scary time.”
Through CARE principles, children, youth, adults, families, and employees work together to achieve their full potential.