Author: Lénia Carvalhais

Department of Psychology and Education, Portucalense University
ESES – Santarém Polytechnic University
Life Quality Research Centre



Social care systems, residential care centres and directors are pressured to provide the best service to children and youngsters who were mostly victims of negligence and violence. At the same time, there is also a concern for personnel well-being and personal and professional development. A qualitative and exploratory study was developed to identify, with semi-structured interviews with ten directors of residential care centres, the most recent practices regarding personnel recruitment, in-service training, supervision, and the promotion of caregivers’ well-being. The results revealed that workers were perceived as the most important resource in an organisation. Promoting personnel training and care for caregivers were, therefore, identified as strategies to preserve adequate workers’ commitment to this demanding career and to avoid worker turnover or burnout. As workers are asked to apply their soft skills daily and specific knowledge in several areas, training should focus more on mental health and psychological and physical well-being to provide adequate care. The results indicated that these subjects, and those specifically connected with at-risk children/youth, were identified as essential to the directors interviewed but were not yet broadly available. Working groups with an international perspective could bring more input into how to work in residential care centres should be carried out. At present, training and recruitment, particularly in educational teams (e.g., the educational team is normally constituted by workers who did not attend higher education, who are responsible for daily routines, working closely and continuously with children and youngsters, in daily tasks as hygiene, meals, travelling to school or to other activities, such as the Scouts), are still very dependent on each centre, which is functioning mainly by itself and is mainly guided by the decisions of its director. New research projects to implement in-service training and intervention programs to promote personnel well- being are needed, as well as quantitative data to validate the exploratory conclusions of this work.

Extended abstract published in February 2024 Newsletter