So, coming up to Christmas can be a nightmare for any Children’s Home or Residential Service. 

Not only do you have to keep the floor running, but you also have to contend with the festive add-ons.

For example, the seasonal headache of staff who seem less than willing to commit to working even though they said they would, or have somehow snuck off the rota and a creeping feeling of stress before the first decoration is on the tree. 

Let’s face it, many people have time off over Christmas, but for residential care, it just isn’t so and who doesn’t want to be at home?

Who really wants to work at Christmas? 🙁

But, what is important is that Christmas and New Year can be an emotional time for your residents. They are away from their families and often don't have a choice as to whether they spend time with their family or not!

Without careful planning, the festive season can turn into a complete disaster.

You might find more problems in this short period of time than any other time in the year.

What with all the Christmas programmes with all the happy ever after endings. It is best to get the time planned properly and get your team to leave the 'I wish I was at home' faces and attitude at the door.  Remember for some of your young people Christmas might not have been their best time ever!

The key to success is to ensure you implement careful planning and a sensitive appreciation for your already frazzled workforce as they enter into a period that can be fraught with tension.

So, here are three pointers to include in your pre-festive season build-up.

1. Spread some cheer

Let your staff team know that you appreciate how hard they already work and how much it means to you and the young people, that they are committed to making the Christmas period as good as it can be. 

I once worked for a boss who said ‘why should we thank people for what they are getting paid for’. 

Really! 

Would this attitude inspire you? 

Christmas is a weird and emotional time. 

As soon as the last firework is lit on Guy Fawkes night, our TV’s are filled with Christmas adverts and cheer.  Remember, your team have families, relatives and all the pressures that come with the season as well as having to turn up for work. 

Inspire your team with your enthusiasm, kindness and creative energy.

Give a bit, make them feel valued. It goes a long way.

2. Plan like a boss

Good, thorough planning is essential and definitely worth it.

Who knows what the festive season will throw up for your young people. Don't be fooled into thinking that just chilling around the house will be good for them. 

You might find just relaxing around the house to be more harmful than helpful. 

If you are giving young people too much time to ponder on what they think they are missing, you might trigger some unintended consequences. The festive season is a known time for trauma to become heightened. 

Instead, give them something to remember. Make plans together.  Talk about it before you get there and get your residents involved in planning what they want to do. 

Pepper Christmas with the unusual.

What is going on in your local area? Can you join in?

Is there anything you can take part in?

Is there anything your young people can do for others in the community?

Don’t just sit around get out and about but build it into your planning and as it is Christmas add a few surprises.

Do things you don’t always do!

Remember, some young people might not celebrate Christmas. How are you going to manage this? What will you do to make sure you respect their wishes?

If you don’t get in there with them and make sure your plans are ones for the greater good, you may end up with a festive disaster on your hands!

You have to be in charge.

Engage, lead, distract and avoid disaster.

3. Communicate

If you don’t communicate what your expectations are for your team and your young people, then you might end up with unexpected and unpleasant results.

In step 2, you will have created your plan, and you have to communicate this to everyone in your team. 

Make sure everyone knows ahead of time, what they, as a team are supposed to be doing and what the team should do if it doesn’t go as expected and everything will run smoother.

Who is on call?

Who can the team ask for advice? 

Getting your client group onboard is essential. If you have involved them in the process, got them actively engaged in organising everything, then this can only make for a happier all-round festive experience.

Using the above three steps will help you, your team and young people be prepared and hopefully get the most out of their festive season.

All the very best for Christmas.