ChildVision is a big place and lots of different things go on here. For example, you may have been on a weekend activity or a holiday organised by National Network Services or you may have a braille book or large print book produced by Reading Services. Now you may be interested Term -time Residential Living, this is the part of ChildVision which provides social care and accommodation for young people with sight loss who decide they want to live in one of our houses while attending secondary school beside our campus or attending our Life Long Learning programme.
There is no cost to you or your family for this service. The cost is paid by the government, through the Health Service Executive (HSE) and by ChildVision itself which funds many aspects of its service to visually impaired young people from its own financial resources, mostly by its fundraising activities.
Each of ChildVision’s five houses are staffed by a team of fully qualified social care workers. Above everything else their job is to care for you.
For example they will make sure that:
Each team of social care workers has a team leader.
In turn, the team leaders report to the Director of Social Care, whose name is James Forbes.
The nurses are also there to care for you and your medical needs. Their names are Kathleen Haran, Mary Burke, Sophie and Niamh Duffy.
The social care staff are on duty in your house day and night. They will always care for you in the best way they can. The social care staff are well trained, very tuned into what it means to have a vision impairment and all of them enjoy working with young people.
The social care staff are there to protect you and to protect your rights. The most important statement of Children’s and young people’s rights is contained in the United Nation’s Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1989. This is an agreement that says children should never be hurt in any way and it contains a big list of things children and young people need. ChildVision has put chunks of the UNCRC into its own policies so your social care worker will be there to advocate for your needs and to make sure you are listened to and respected.
In fact being your advocate is a big part of a social care worker’s job. But you need to be your own advocate too so, where possible, we’ll help you in practical ways to speak up for yourself.
But as well as that there are rules which the government have made to help the social care staff do their job even better.
Some of these rules are called the Standards for Children’s Residential Centres. A summary of these standards is available in each house and if you want to know more about them the team leader in your house will be happy to explain them to you.
In addition, there is also a body called the Health Information and Quality Authority or HIQA for short, who are bringing in standards just for residential settings where people with disabilities live. These standards are called “The National Standards for Residential Services for Children and Adults with Disabilities”. These standards are very important and will help us all in making ChildVision an even better place to live.
If you come to stay at ChildVision the Social Care staff in your house will talk with you about these standards and copies will be available in appropriate formats for you.
Inspections of each house in ChildVision will be carried out by HIQA inspectors and these will be published on www.HIQA.ie
The houses are open from Sunday evening to Friday afternoon except during school holidays. Sometimes the houses may also be open at weekends if there is some special reason for this such as a sporting weekend or a parent weekend.
Other young people both male and female, who also have a vision impairment. These other young people will usually be in the same school as you or on the same course as you and will be around the same age as you.
Most of the young people living in our houses do have their own room but this depends on the size of the house you are living in and how many others are living there too; if you do have to share it will never be with more than one other student. If you are sharing a bedroom you will be expected to respect each others space and belongings.
If you want to enter another young person’s room you must get their permission to do this. Sometimes you will need to get a member of staff’s permission too but there will be times, such as bedtime or when it is very early in the morning when you will not usually be allowed to enter another student’s room.
No. We have a mix of houses, one on the grounds of ChildVision and some in the streets nearby. These houses cater for different age groups and so as you change class or move from one course to another you will probably change house too. However, you will probably be in the same house for at least a couple of years.
The social care staff in your house are professional people who want you to feel respected and valued at all times. If a staff member needs to enter your bedroom while you are in it, they will always knock first and call out your name. Your room is your private space and social care staff will always treat your room and your belongings with respect. But in an emergency the staff will enter your room as they believe appropriate, especially if you have had an accident or are in need of help.
Obviously just like at home you will be expected to go to school or attend your course during the day. You will also be expected to do your homework or coursework and to do some household chores such as setting the table or helping to prepare the evening meal. But you will also have lots of time to relax, to chat, hangout, watch T.V., and listen to music or whatever you enjoy doing in your free time. Visits from your family and friends are always welcome.
In addition, your staff team will be eager to do everything they can to organize or help you organise any hobby or activity which you might enjoy taking part in.
Some examples of activities happening at the moment include:
Yes. Many of our social care staff (all of whom have degrees in Social Care) are also trained to work one to one with students who have a visual impairment.
So, if you need help with orientation or mobility, for example if you are old enough and if you want to travel on your own to the shops in the evening or if you want to learn how to use public transport or to find your way around town, we have trained staff who can help you learn safely and gain as much independence as you possibly can. Similarly, if you want to know the best computer programmes for a vision impaired young person to use or how to cook a meal or the best way to apply make-up or match clothes or even just how to keep your room and belongings tidy the social care staff can help you with all these things too and much more. For you, personal care may be something you’d like to do better. We can help you become more independent in this area too.
In addition, ChildVision also have a team of speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, a physiotherapist and nurses who are there to help you if you need their involvement.
Really it’s easier to say what you can’t bring rather than have a big list of what is allowed. Obviously you’ll need clothes and toiletries and some spending money (but not too much) and if you want to bring a laptop, a small stereo system for your bedroom, CDs, DVDs, a mobile phone, an iPad, tablet or games and toys they’re all fine too. You might also want to bring things that will make you feel more at home. But you cannot bring any pets or your own TV because these wouldn’t fit in with sharing a house with other people. If there is anything else which you will not be allowed have in the house your social care staff will explain to you the reasons why not. But please remember you will be the main person responsible for your property so if you bring something of value, you will be expected to look after it.
Above all you are responsible for the way you behave. The social care staff will always treat you with respect and in turn it is expected that you will treat the staff and the other students in your house with respect. This means a lot of things but above all it means always trying to take other people’s feelings into consideration. If you do not like something we want you to say that and to explain why but we need you to do this in a way which shows respect to everyone involved.
Behaving in a way which takes others into consideration is being responsible.
Behaving responsibly will help make your house a happy, friendly place, exactly the kind of place you would want to live in.
Of course, but not too many. As has been said a lot so far, respect is a big deal in ChildVision so as you would guess most of our “do’s” and “don’ts” are really about showing and being shown respect.
Students and social care team members all contribute to making the rules in the houses. Here are some of the main ones that are usually on the list:
Bullying is something which will not be tolerated in any of ChildVision’s houses. Whether it is spoken, written, via text, phone or computer, whether it is name calling or violent, ChildVision promises that we will respond immediately to stop it. You have an absolute right to be treated with respect and to feel safe and cared for and ChildVision will do everything in its power to make sure these rights are protected and advanced.
We have two simple messages:
If you are being bullied don’t be silent, tell an adult immediately. Don’t ever be a bully, always try to treat others as you would like to be treated.
A copy of ChildVision’s policy on bullying and all of our social care/residential policies are available in your house and social care staff will go through them all with you. Please take the time to read or listen to them.
Everything we do in ChildVision will always be about making sure, first and foremost, that the children and young people we work with feel valued, listened to, respected, cared for and are kept safe from any kind of harm or hurt. ChildVision puts the Government’s policy, Children First(2011), at the heart of our work and, regularly, ALL our staff, including our social care teams, vocational tutors, teachers, managers, therapists, nurses, administration staff, maintenance and household and catering staff do refresher training in what Children First means. In particular, all of your social care team will be very familiar with Children First and any of them will be happy to talk to you about it.
As well as that, you should know that no one can come and work directly with young people in ChildVision without submitting themselves to a Garda Vetting process to find out if they have any criminal convictions which would make them an unfit person to work with children or vulnerable adults.
In addition, you should also know that ChildVision has its own Child Protection Policy which every employee and volunteer (and even some types of visitors) are required to read and to sign a declaration that they agree to be bound by it.
ChildVision also has what is called a Designated Person for Child Protection. This is the person in the organisation who is there to deal with child protection concerns reported by staff, children, young adults or others. In ChildVision the designated person is James Forbes.
All the social care staff in your house will be more than happy to talk with you when you feel you want to tell them or ask them something. But if for some reason you don’t want to talk to anyone who works in your house there are other people you can approach. There are your parents / guardians for example.
If it is a medical issue you can always talk to Kathleen or Mary or Niamh, our nurses. Their office is in the main ChildVision building. Or you can talk to James, the Head of Care. His office is also in the main ChildVision building. But if you don’t want to talk to your parents and don’t feel you can talk about your worry to any of the people who work in ChildVision you might want to talk to Tom.
Tom is a man who has never worked in ChildVision but he has been a social care worker for a long time and is now a senior manager with the Child and Family Agency in Dublin.
ChildVision has asked Tom to be there for any of our students who might have a secret or a serious complaint, especially about ChildVision or something happening here. So if you have a problem about ChildVision that you don’t want to tell someone who works in ChildVision think about telling Tom.
Tom isn’t doing this job for ChildVision and ChildVision don’t pay him a penny. Tom is doing this job for you. He has promised to listen to you and to do everything he can to sort the problem out or, if he can’t, to bring the problem to someone who can sort it out.
We call Tom our ‘external visitor’. It’s a funny name for a very serious job. His full name is Tom O’ Donnell and you can contact him on 087 268 7209.
No, not always. Often conversations you have with a staff member will be confidential unless you give your permission for your concerns to be raised with another person. But for your own safety and well-being and to make sure you get the help you need sometimes a staff member will have to share you secret with other members of the social care team, especially if you or someone else could be in danger.
If you find you are getting into trouble because of doing things you are not supposed to do the social care staff will talk to you and will encourage and support you to behave better. This may mean using what are called ‘consequences’.
Consequences are not punishments. Maybe the best way to think of them is as actions which are designed to help you understand your behaviour better and what might be done to improve it. For example you might be grounded for a period of time or given extra chores to do around the house. But our policy on consequences says very clearly that you will never be sanctioned in a way which doesn’t show you respect. So, for example you will never be mocked or humiliated or physically punished or denied a meal.
Just this. The social care staff in your house will explain what is acceptable behaviour but you won’t be hearing anything you probably don’t know already. When things are going well for you, you will be praised and encouraged and all those who care about you will be let know how well you are doing.
If there are concerns about your behaviour the social care staff will talk to you about these issues, listen to what you have to say and agree on how, working together, things can be made better for you.
Feel free. We want you to be happy in ChildVision. So, if something has happened that causes you worry or upset or anxiety we need to hear about it. If you make a complaint it will be taken seriously. Every complaint that is made will be thoroughly investigated and you will be informed of the outcome as soon as possible.
You can complain in three ways:
Every young person in ChildVision’s houses have an individual log book and an individual Care Plan. The log book contains an account of your day; things like the activities you took part in, appointments you had and how your day went. You can read your log book or have it read to you anytime you want – after all, it’s your log book! For the social care staff in your house the log book is an important way to keep track of everything that goes on each day in a busy house and to make sure every young person’s daily needs are met.
The Care Plan is also about meeting your needs. It is a document that will be put together with you and with your parent/guardians soon after you arrive in ChildVision. It’s a little like a map that puts down where you are and where you want to get to and a little like a guide book too about how together we are going to work to help you achieve your goals and ambitions. It will change over time to reflect what you have achieved and what you will want to achieve. Just like the log books your Care Plan is there for you to read or have read to you anytime you want. In fact, social care staff will regularly review it with you to make sure it is still on target.
Yes, every house in ChildVision has a seat on the Student Council and that elections are held at the start of every school year to decide which student represents each house. The Student Council is another important way of having your say about how we can all work together to make ChildVision the best place it can be.