Workforce Insights

Lincolnshire County Council

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‘There aren’t many roles where you get to take a child on holiday’: the benefits of residential care work

mother and daughter packing suitcase for vacation By cherryandbees
Photo: cherryandbees/Adobe

Two managers from Lincolnshire County Council explain why they were drawn to a career in residential care for children

Helen Wallis is organising a birthday party for a child in the residential home she manages. As well as the balloons and cakes, it’s a chance to celebrate a positive milestone in this young person’s life – one of the benefits of working in a residential home, according to Helen.

“There’s not many roles where you get to wake up on Christmas morning with five children that are really excited or where you have the opportunity to take them off to school on their first day, or take them on holiday,” says Helen. “That’s such a privilege to be able to do and to make that a really special experience for somebody else’s child”.

Helen was recently promoted to homes manager at Lincolnshire County Council’s new specialist residential therapeutic home, Robin House.

“Don’t get me wrong it [working in residential] can be a really tough role,” Helen adds. “But there are a lot of key moments that enable you to do a lot of the fun things as well, like celebrating Halloween, Diwali, Eid, birthdays and Christmases.”

Closeup of birthday cake with candles By Anna Neubauer/ Adobe

Photo: Anna Neubauer/ Adobe

Career progression

Helen has worked in residential since 2001, initially undertaking relief work in the homes and then working her way up through the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) training programme to gain her levels three and five diplomas in residential childcare.

Helen believes Lincolnshire offers “exceptional” training for practitioners to develop and progress, whether that is for people who are new to working in residential or those with existing experience.

The offer includes social pedagogy training and therapeutic crisis management training, which Lincolnshire is currently rolling out to all of its homes.

The training Lincolnshire provides takes a ‘back to basics’ approach, designed to ensure practitioners can identify those child development milestones that some children coming to residential homes may have missed and would really benefit from experiencing through play or other learning activities.

“This training is beneficial because it also helps us to explore what that means in terms of attachment styles for our children and enables the care-giving approach to be tailored to the needs of individual children,” says Helen.

Helen also believes that Lincolnshire is good at preparing staff who want to progress into a management role.

“I did my level five qualification when I was a senior worker, [and] it prepared me well for the next step because a lot of the elements were around the management of a home. It gave me the opportunities to do that shadowing experience that I would need to then progress to an assistant manager role.”

Helen is one of several homes managers who have progressed in their career at Lincolnshire. Katie Samson, who recently transitioned from homes manager to a service lead, is another.

Moving from social work to residential care

Katie has been a qualified social worker since 2011. During her placement at Lincolnshire’s Eastgate residential home, she fell in love with working in residential care.

Katie progressed to homes manager at Eastgate and, in December 2023, took on a new role as service lead for residential estates, which sees her overseeing the management of eight residential estates with a colleague.

She has also been involved in the project to open a new therapeutic home in Louth in 2024.

Katie has been able to build on her training as a social worker and use her analytical skills when completing assessments to get the best possible outcome for the child. Katie highlights that there is also access to specialist training.

“I’ve been able to progress over the 12 years [since I qualified] and that’s because those development opportunities have been available. If you’re really wanting to progress and are willing to look for those opportunities and really push yourself forward, then a starting point in residential is definitely beneficial,” says Katie.

Katie is not the only qualified social worker taking up a role in residential.

“A lot of social workers have placements within the children’s homes and in my experience a lot of them have stayed as well,” says Helen. She references one social work student who started a placement a few years ago and has now progressed to assistant manager at one of the authority’s children’s homes.

Psychology Test for Children - Toddler Coloring ShapesBy Microgen/ Adobe

Photo: Microgen/ Adobe

Understanding children’s behaviour

One of the draws to working in residential is the insight that practitioners gain from working with specialists in children’s behaviour, says Helen.

“[We] work closely with the complex needs team at the referral point to complete a psychological formulation of that child. That’s obviously led by our clinical psychologist and that guides the practice and care that we implement with that child within the home.”

Having consultations with psychologists and onsite complex needs workers also helps to support workers’ practice, the team and, ultimately, the children, Helen explains.

“Being able to offer reflective practice once a month in addition to our supervisions means that we are looking at the welfare of the team to ensure they’re accessing the support that is really important. This also ensures that the work that we’re doing day to day continues that trauma-informed approach and ensures that we are homing in on the needs of that young person.”

The benefits

For some people, the fixed hours that come from working shifts is a draw.

“You can finish a shift at 10am, which means you have the rest of the day, and you get a couple of days off in the week. That suits some people much more than working Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, for example,” says Helen.

“We work on a rota basis, so we have a four-week block and that rolls throughout the year. So, in terms of your planning, you know when you’re going to be off, and you know what weekends you’re going to be working.”

In terms of pay, there are additional incentives for staff aside from the basic salary, including a bank holiday allowance if a staff member works after 11am, and a sleeping in allowance, which is about £40 a night.

Salaries for residential care staff

The salaries for working within Lincolnshire’s residential homes are:

  • Level 1: £27,803 – £30,296
  • Level 2: £30,296 – £33,024
  • Level 3: £36,648 – £40,221
  • Assistant manager: £40,221 – £44,428
  • Manager – £49,498 – £56,769

Choosing a career at Lincolnshire

If you want to know more about a career in children’s residential care, email Lincolnshire’s homes managers at for an informal discussion, or visit the council’s jobs and careers page, which will show you the roles currently available. Visit the Lincolnshire County Council Employer Profile page to learn more about children’s services.