Operation Deep Clean!

It’s been a very busy few weeks for the Domestics Team and I, as we have been preparing the school for the new school year. This is a task that should not be taken lightly,  as it is the only time of the year, we can perform a deep clean of the school. It takes me and 15 Housekeepers, with the help of a fgew volunteers (Mum, some of the Teaching Assistants and a few off duty Care Staff) to perform the yearly “blitz” of the school.

Towards the end of the Spring Term, we begin planning a deep clean operation. It takes a team of cleaners to get our school deep cleaned and to leave it fresh and clean for the beginning of term. Below are some statistics of what has to be deep cleaned every year, which gives you a flavor of how big a job deep cleaning really is!

  • Around 8 miles of carpets have to be steam cleaned every summer. (This includes classrooms, Corridors, stairwells and boarding units.
  • 275 windows were cleaned internally and externally
  • Over 600 desks, tables and chairs were steam cleaned through the site
  • All surfaces in the kitchens were deep cleaned, using high pressure water, mixed with heavy duty cleaner.
  • Over 500 light shades and light fittings are deep cleaned. (This includes florescent lights)
  • 200 toilet bowls, cisterns and urinals deep cleaned, along with 110 sinks, 30 showers,  and 8 bath tubs!
  • We used 20L of chewing gum remover to remove chewing gum from the bottoms of tables, chairs and other fixtures.
  • We used around 50L of descaler on sanitary fittings
  • We used a fleet of 20 vacuum cleaners, made up of “Henry’s” and Serbo’s, as well as 3 industrial wet and dry machines
  • We used over 200 hoover bags, during deep cleaning
  • We use over 50L of water to steam clean the corridors, offices, boarding units and classrooms
  • Every mattress on the units and Sick Bay were taken outside and are sprayed for bedbugs.
  • To deep clean a unit, takes around 8 hours. Once the borders are up, dressed and had breakfast, they are asked to vacate the unit. There personal possessions are noted down and carefully put in boxes and then the unit is cleaned top to bottom. By evening, when the boarders return from their activity off site, the unit is fully cleaned.
  • To deep clean the Residential block from top to bottom, takes around 8 days to complete. Sick Bay is the hardest area to clean, as it is constantly in use. So top deal with that, one side is closed while deep cleaning is carried out. Once on side is done, we close the other side and repeat the process. The unit deep cleans have to be planned carefully as well!
  • Several pairs of socks and other items of clothes were uncovered while cleaning the school and Junior House
  • 15 miles of pipework is thoroughly cleaned during the deep clean, including  water, radiator and drain pipes!
  • Talking of drainpipes, we used 20L of sink & plughole unblocker to remove hair and grease from several sinks, showers and bath waste traps and plugholes.
  • I repaired several plugs on sinks and bathtubs, where the chain had come loose.
  • I fixed 13 “Pull & Clank Iron Bell” High Level Toilet Cisterns, which were in need of attention, due to the kids pulling the chain too hard and causing the flush handle to fall into the cistern. (You can’t beat the sound of a “pull and clank” cistern when it is being flushed!)
  • 200 vertical blinds are carefully dismantled, cleaned and put back up.
  • Even the swimming pool does not get away with not being deep cleaned! The pool was drained in July, the tiles checked and the whole interior of the pool jet washed before refilling! The poolside also was jet washed, as well as the changing rooms being deep steam cleaned and the plant equipment serviced.
  • The laundry machines were disinfected, along with the floor and drainage channels
  • The 5 sluice rooms in Junior House were deep cleaned, using high pressure water. This included the sluice sinks, the interior of the Macatator machines (with disinfectant) and the walls, which were manually washed down.
  • All ventilation vents were cleaned and any dust harboring round the vents removed.
  • The curtains in the Hall were all taken down and sent for dry cleaning. The curtains require scaffold towers to take down and put back up; so it is good they only need a clean once a year!
  • The majority of furniture from classrooms were put either in the corridors or in other classrooms while deep cleaning was carried out.
  • Over 1000 electrical items got PAT Tested (Portable Appliance Test) while we were deep cleaning. (We had a company come in to do this)
  • Finally, the chandler in the entrance hall of the school had to be cleaned while in situ. Again, we had a specialist company to come in and do this for us and meant that for 6 hours, the front entrance to the school could not be used, as we had a scaffold tower erected.

So we are nearly finished with deep cleaning. I just have a little bit of painting to do and a few cracked tiles to replace, but it has been an exhausting few weeks through August, to get the school spick and span. I know I only just had a holiday, but I could do with another – I am knackered!

Gossip & Wild Rumours

The kids have decided to be deceitful and betraying confidence, after they noticed that Will has one to one sessions with Sam and I. Helping Will make that step back into society, after being locked up. So is important to us; so we can help him get used to life on the outside and I know Will is frightened of peer pressure and that he will be tempted to offend again. This is why these sessions are important, so we can talk about things and we can help to steer clear of the temptations.

Of course, the boys have been trying to get it out of Sam and I about the reasons he is on tag. Of course we will not betray him and tell them, as this is something Will needs to do when he he ready. (Which he is not) So the kids decided to find out once and for all, by planting a distophone in the study.  A little later Jenny caught the kids listening to the tape in the Playroom and told me about it. Of course I dealt with it and the kids got a very bad telling off about betraying confidence and starting wild rumours and nasty gossip. Thankfully Will did not have to hear this, as it would of really upset him.

The boys have learnt a lesson about confidentiality, betrayal, starting rumours and also that they are not allowed in the study without permission. (It is a shame that Sam and I now need to keep the door locked, as we cannot trust the boys not to go in there without permission, which is disappointing.

On more positive news, Sam had a really busy night, doing a disco and Karaoke.  He had had over 80 singers in one night and the atmosphere was buzzing. He was exhausted when he came home after 1am last night and is currently out doing another disco at the moment and is working again tonight. (Poor Sam! Good thing I have the weekend off!)

Special Care

Today, we had a new arrival to the family. His name is William, (But we all call him Will) he’s 13 and been put into long term care with us, after serving 2 years for drug offences in a Young Offenders Unit. Originally, he was to be released to the care of the Foxes Unit, which is a secure care unit. However, I managed to persuade the powers that be, that a more family based environment would be better. This took a lot of meetings and visits with Will, Social Workers, Youth Offending Team (YOT) staff, Prison Parole Teams and his Mental Health Workers. This happened over several months, dating back to February, when the planning of his release was being formulated. Will had said that he had been to Children’s Home after Children’s Home and had not been properly understood and that his actions were due to his mental health. While inside, Will did get mental health support and he was finally given a diagnosis, with the correct support. (Medication and therapies and also support to stop him messing with drugs again)

Sam and I are probably the 1st Foster Carers to ever directly take on a young person released from Young Offenders, but we are not being left in the dark. Will has been made an appointment to see his Youth Offending Worker every week and he is also being fast tracked to receive community mental health support. He is also tagged and is not allowed out after 7pm. (But he can go in our garden)  We also have Social Services support and we have the number of his Parole Officer if we are concerned about him.  He will be attending out school as a day pupil, but for the 1st few weeks; he will be taught on the Day unit on Sick Bay, while he gets used to being out in the community.

Sam and I decided that it was best that he arrived without the other kids being around, so that he could have 2 or 3 hours to relax and to get to know his way around the house and for Sam and I to get to know him outside the . (We sent the kids bowling with Jenny. We have not told the kids about his background, but we have said he has been in trouble with the Police and is currently on curfew. We have not said anything else and we are letting Will tell the others, if and when he feels ready. He seems to be getting on really well with the other boys and already seems to be finding himself part of the family.

Hopefuilly we can help him to stay clean and stay out of trouble. Sam has said that if he goes to all his YOT meetings, therapy sessions and stays clean off the drugs (Possession of Coke was what he was sent down for) and complies with his curfews and house rules, Sam has said he will buy Will a decent Mountain Bike, which is a good way to help him stay on the straight and narrow, as he has something to focus towards.

Lets hope he does 🙂

Funny Downton Pardody

I just had this video posted on my Facebook, which is a parody of Downtown by Petula Clark, renamed “Downton” and is a parody of Downton Abbey, which Sam and I love. (Dame Maggie Smith rocks!) anyway, it’s lead to a new catogory being added to the blog, entitled “Funny YouTube Videos”. I hope you laugh your socks off at this video like I did!

What Would You Do?

I had to run to the local Tesco, to get some cough medicine for the kids (as everyone in the house at some point has had this nasty summer cold going around) and Kyle needed a few Monster Energy Drinks for his early shift tomorrow. My goods cost just over £8 and I had put a tenner into the self service checkout. Thankfully I clicked yes for a receipt, as the machine spat out £1.20 change, instead of 15p.  So what would you do?…

One scenerio was to not say anything and pocket the money, but this in a way would be shoplifting, as I technically wouldn’t of paid  for some of my goods. The other was to be honest and tell the store. I decided to tell the store assistant, who got the Manager. I was thanked for my honesty, as I could’ve just kept my god shut and walked out.

So what would you do? Feel free to comment below.

Sun Sea and Storms!

Sam and I took the kids to Blackpool last week, as we had been invited to a friend’s weeding.  We stayed in the Cliffs Hotel, which was really nice. The boys shared twin rooms, while Kyle and I had a double and Jenny had a single. The kids enjoyed use of the swimming pool, the kids club and watching the entertainment in the night club. The kids were treated to a light show like no other, as a violent thunderstorm hit the resort on Wednesday night. The boys sat in the Cafe Bar with myself and Jenny and were counting between the flashes and the crack of thunder.

The next day was the wedding, so we all got dressed up for it. The weather was good, so we got to take lots of pictures after a wonderful ceremony. After, the ceremony, the reception was at a local pub, so with 8 hours of disco and Karaoke,Sam and I were in our element and had great fun singing and dancing. The kids also joined us for a massive conga line, which wet round the bar, down to the family area, out the fire doors, round the car park and back in the main entrance! Sam and I did not get back to the hotel until 1am, as the party went on and on…. Hehe!

Friday was a good day, as Sam took 3 of the older boys to the Pleasure Beach, while the remaining younger boys came with me to the Sandcastle Waterpark. After lunch, we swapped and Sam too the older boys swimming, while I went on the tea cups, the tunnel of love and the slower rides with the younger boys. Later, we had tea at the pub where the reception was and stayed on for Karaoke. The Karaoke host, (George) and his wife (Lorraine) are really good singers and were very encouraging!

Saturday was a day of leisure, so we went shopping and spent the afternoon on the beach. In the evening, we hit the hotel bar again and we let the kids enjoy the kids club activities.

On Sunday, I took the kids up the Tower. If you have never been, it is really worth it! The Circus with the fountain finale was amazing, plus watching the dancing in the ballroom was fun; while we had a drink and a bite to eat. Then I dragged Sam to the top of the tower, with the kids jumping up and down on the glass plate! Sam and I went up to the top deck, while the kids were looking across Blackpool and had a moment to ourselves. (What’s wrong with a quick private smootch from the tower top?

tower
Breathtaking views from the top of Blackpool Tower

Sunday evening called for Karaoke again and we enjoyed a evening in the company of George and Lorraine. The kids enjoyed playing pool and enjoying the pub garden, while Sam and I had a sing song and a few pints.

We came back refreshed on Monday, to a pile of post and lunch, which Linda had made for our return. (Linda is Sam’s mum btw!)

When Every Second Counts

I found myself in a rather difficult spot, when having to deal with a medical emergency at home.  It started when I’d said no to one of the older boys, after wanting a bar of chocolate so near tea. I’d said no for a reason. (He’d not want his tea and I had suggested a piece of fruit instead) However, he decided to storm off and went upstairs. What I didn’t know, was that he knew that another one of the boys had a Fruit and Nut bar in his bedroom. The boy who originally had stashed the  Fruit and Nut bar away should of known better, as the kids know anything with nuts is banned from the house.

So this older boy had heard one of the other boys walking up the stairs, so he ran into the bathroom, locked himself in and began eating the bar of chocolate. Of course, he began to go into a allergic reaction and was unable to reach the emergency cords we have in the bathrooms. (We have this, because we have 2 boys who are disabled and the cords allow them to call for help.) He was slumped behind the door and unable to breathe, within minutes his airway will have closed up.

At this time, one of the other boys wanted the toilet, so he went to the 1st floor bathroom. Finding the door locked and the downstairs toilet engaged, he began hammering on the door. I came up to see what the noise was about and knocked on the door to the loo, to see if whoever was inside was OK. Getting no response, I used a 10p to release the lock, but was unable to open the door, due to boy slumped behind the door.  Knowing that something was very wrong, I held the door as far as it would open and got one of the younger kids to slip through the gap.  When I got told who was behind the door and that there was a bar of Fruit and Nut on the floor and this boy wasn’t moving. I asked if the person behind the door was breathing, (by placing his hand in front of his mouth) sadly he wasn’t. The boy in question could not pull him away from the door, so I told one of the boys to run downstairs to the kitchen, call an ambulance by dialing 9-999 and stating that there is a casualty with anaphylaxis and his Foster Dad was trying to get into the bathroom, to help him.

meanwhile, I had run into our  bedroom and gone to the locked box we keep in our wardrobe, which has the kids meds for during the night and grabbed the spare Epi-Pen. (It saves walking down to the Laundry Room, unlocking the cupboard to get the meds and walk all the way back up again at 4am!)

 

epi-pen-anaphylaxis
Epi-Pen, for Anaphylactic Emergencies

An Epi-Pen btw, is a emergency injector of Adrenaline, used to reverse an anaphylactic reaction.

 

I opened the bathroom window on our ensuite and climbed out onto the roof of the kitchen. Carefully walking between the pitched part of the roof and the wall, made my way to the bathroom window. I told the other boy to turn away from the window and stand back. I then used a loose slate and broke the glass.  I Was able to administer adrenaline and move him away from the door, for when the paramedics arrived. I also performed CPR, until

Jenny went with him to A&E, where he has recovered from the reaction and may be home later. Meanwhile, while all this was going on, one of the boys got on their bikes and cycled down to school, (using the alleyway that runs down the side of the house and down the side of the fields) to fetch Sam. (Who was preparing for his Aikido lesson.

The boys have had a good talking to about nuts not being allowed in the house, (especially chocolate with nuts in it) as well as the consequences of  nut products being bought into the house. (IE: severe allergic reactions) What Sam and I have done, is to setup a nut ammunansty. There is a bin outside the office, which the kids can dump anything with nuts in, with no questions asked.

 

First Aid for Anaphylaxis Emergencies

  1. First, loosen the casualties shirt collar and if he or she is wearing a tie, loosen that too. While you do this,
  2. Ask a bystander to immateriality call an ambulance, (DIAL 999 OR 112 FROM THE NEAREST TELEPHONE) stating that the casualty is in anaphylaxis.
  3. inject the casualty with their auto injector (Epi-Pen)  – push it firmly into their thigh until it clicks. Hold for 10 seconds. (The auto injector can be jabbed through clothing)
  4. If the casualty is not breathing, place he or she on their back and perform CPR. (Rescue Breaths will not work, as the airway is normally restricted, so perform Chest Compressions only) – Push hard and push fast, to  the beat of Staying Alive By The Beegees)
  5. Once breathing again, place in the recovery position and closely monitor his or her breathing. If the casualty stops breathing, put them on their back again and begin CPR
  6. Show the Ambulance crew what allergen the Casualty has come into contact with, if possible.

Why Do We Care?

I often get asked, why do you Foster? This is not a simple answer, but the long and the short of it, is that there are not enough loving families to protect and support Children and Young People. On top of this, there are not enough Foster Families who are able to support the most vulnerable people in today’s society. (These are children and young people who have either been through trauma, or have enduring mental health problems.

The kids keep us on our toes! They can be a lively bunch, “crazy as a box of frogs, but good at heart. This is why there are 3 of us at home; to help care and protect the kids in our care. Kyle Jenny and I do a pretty good job of keeping the kids happy, safe and well. (We also have extra support on weekends, from my mum. (Linda) My mum used to work as a Unit Leader , on the Birds Unit at work; until she retired.

The kids with mental health  issues, (which is 3 of the kids) are the most demanding. As you can probably imagine, all the sharp knives are locked away, as well as locking up cleaning chemicals and that the kids have safety scissors. Also, because we foster kids who are under Police \ Child Protection orders, we have to be careful who can come in and out the house. The main front door is always locked and requires Kyle, Jenny or I to open the door release button in the study. (The door to the study is also always locked, as the kids have a habit of going in there and spilling their drinks on my desk and my PC. The garden is walled in and is safe for our kids.

The kids know  they can come to one of us, 24 hours a day. It does not matter if it’s 4am and Kyle, Jenny or I are fast asleep. We are always there, if the kids need a private chat or just need a cuddle. We encourage the kids to talk to us, any time. Talking helps the kids and helps to deal with their problems. Of course, we have to deal with the ups as well as the downs, such as when the kids get certificates at school) But when it all goes wrong, we are always there to pick up the pieces.

You know, Fostering is one of the greatest of life’s journeys. You get to learn a lot about yourself and the kids you look after.  You share the smiles, the tears and the tantrums, as well as sharing birthdays, christmas’ holidays and family activities. So If you have a spare room and could offer a child a new start in life, contact your local Social Services Department or a Fostering agency. I’ve had over 20 kids go in and out my house. (Most are either emergency placements or on respite care.) I have 2 on long term placement, as well.

Oh, before I forget… We’ve found out which of the boys flooded the bathroom. That’s got the kids off the hook, except for the person responsible. This person is now grounded for a month and will be paying for the damage to the ceiling.

Bubble Bubble Kids In Trouble!

So, my lot have managed to get themselves grounded, after flooding my kitchen; over the weekend. Someone (and no one at present has owned up to it) allowed the bath to overflow last night, causing the water to flood the bathroom floor, which then caused a bit of the kitchen ceiling to collapse, sending water all over the the floor, the worktops and the walls. The numpty who left the bath to overflow have decided they will kept their mouth shut and no one will own up, which means the boys are in the worse trouble yet!

celng

As no one seems to want to own up to who deliberately left the bathroom to flood, the kids are now GROUNDED, with no TV and all trips cancelled. The mess caused will take a over a week to clean up and repair the damage to the kitchen and the bathroom.  For the time being, the 1st floor bathroom is  out of bounds,  due to the flood damage, so the boys are having to share the 2nd floor bathroom. I have workmen fixing the mess and the insurance is paying for the repairs.  (Which when someone owns up, will be deducted from pocket money until the mess is cleaned up.)

So until someone owns up, the kids will have to amuse themselves. I have been fostering for years and I have never had to deal with such disrespect for the house or the other people living here. I also have never had to enforce such a strict punishment, but I suppose it is “tough love”, because it will teach the kids that when they do something wrong, they should own up, instead of being found out.

It’s going to take a few days to fix the mess made and I will get to the bottom of who was responsible for the flood. Until then, Kyle Jenny and I will let the kids stew. At some point, the person responsible will come forward and when they do,  the person(s) will remain grounded and pay for damages. (Which includes having the electrics checked above the kitchen ceiling, which also includes the fire alarm system and the bathroom floor and the kitchen ceiling repaired.)

Kyrylo is the only one of the boys currently not grounded and excluded from punishment, as he was asleep on the sofa in the study, so I can vouch that he had nothing to do with the flood.

George’s Marvelous Medicine is not to marvelous!!

If your a parent, I am sure that you have at some point introduced the wonderful world of Roald Dahl and some of the most loved children’s stories; such as The Twits, Matilda and Fantastic Mr Fox. Recently, I have been reading George’s Marvelous Medicine to the younger boys. The book is about a boy called George, who makes up a magic medicine for his Grandma, which makes her grow to the size of the house. The next day, George’s dad gets George to make the magic medicine again, but this time it causes his greedy Grandma to use the medicine again and causes her to shrink so much, she vanishes, much to the despair of Georges Mum and Dad, who later accepts that she was becoming a nuisance anyway.

I let Kyrylo use my en-suite because due to a clog in the toilet, there was a backlog of people wanting to use the bathroom (Knowing they are not allowed to use the bath on the 2nd floor; as that is for the older boys. I only turned my back for 45 seconds, as I needed to go and get a towel for one of the other boys, to find Kyrlo had decided to switch on the spa bath and tip the contents of every shampoo bottle and every bottle of bubble bath into his bath water. This caused foam to go all over the bathroom and make a right mess! Of course, a cleaning veteran like me had no issues dealing with it, as I I used the wet and dry to suck up the water that overflowed and also the foam.

When reading the next chapter, I warned the boys not to try to make George’s Marvelous Medicine, as it could be dangerous and will make one mega mess! Kyle’s mum and dad thought it was funny, when I walked out the bathroom covered in foam!