NW Works in Profile: Scott Laing

This month, we are pleased to introduce our Training Coordinator, Scott Laing. Scott joined NW Works in March of 2018 and has nearly 20-years of experience in the field supporting individuals with disabilities and complex behavioral health needs. 

Image of Scott Laing. A middle-aged caucasian man smiles at the viewer. He had a long brown and gray beard, earrings, and wears a black baseball cap.

Scott began his career at the Grafton Integrated Health Network’s Berryville, Va. campus working with teens. As a 19 year old, Scott says he was involved in many situations utilizing restraint and seclusion – practices that were common in behavioral healthcare settings. But it was clear that the process was damaging the individuals he was supposed to be serving. It was during that time Grafton developed the Ukeru System to eliminate the use of seclusion and restraint on its campuses. The program is now used internationally to train staff in hundreds of agencies to provide trauma-informed care, including at NW Works. 

For Scott, the transition showed him a new way of working with individuals in crisis. It wasn’t always easy though.

“When we started that push specifically at Grafton, I watched a lot of people walk out immediately and quit,” he said, noting that employees weren’t sure at first that Ukeru would keep them safe. “I wanted to be part of that solution and reach folks in a better way…Staying through the process really helped me along the lines of understanding it could be done –and it was done.”

Over the years, Scott learned he had a knack for verbal de-escalation and crisis management, as well as training others to do so too. He would eventually join the Timber Ridge School in Cross Junction, Va., working with at risk students. In that role, Scott not only provided crisis management and filled in as a substitute teacher, but also did his best to be a positive male role model for the students he supported.

After a stint delivering and setting up in-home medical supplies for families in the broader multi-state region, Scott returned to his roots as a Direct Support Professional at NW Works. He was excited to support individuals with disabilities in an environment they chose to be in. Scott was later promoted to a Service Coordinator role (now referred to as Therapeutic Programs Administrators). It was during that time he realized there was a need in the company for a dedicated training role, and after some discussion with Leadership, Scott took it upon himself to write a job description for a Training Coordinator. 

“I knew there was a chance it wouldn’t be me, but I still wanted to do it,” he explained. “The training role was a way to train and push folks to recognize trauma responses, and to provide trauma informed care.”

In his role today, Scott continues to train all staff at NW Works in Ukeru, nearly 18 years after Grafton launched the program. Additionally, he collaborates with others in the company to determine where staff can benefit from additional training. 

“Being the one to bring up gaps in service, you’re not always the most popular person,” he admits. But he says that won’t stop him from advocating for improving services. “It’s not to point fingers, it’s a way to promote growth.” 

Ultimately, Scott views his role as a way to further the human rights issues that the disability community has faced over the years. 

“We’ve come a long way but I don’t think it ever ends. That push [for human rights] never ends.”

A Martinsburg, WVa. native, Scott now lives in Berkeley Springs, WVa. with his daughter. He enjoys spending time outside on the water, whether kayaking or floating, as well as playing music and attending concerts. 

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