My Working Shifts

This is a quick post, as I need to get to bed in a few. (I am on Sleep In tonight (as I always am on a Friday Night.)

Sleep In Shift, is where I am paid to sleep. (Yeah, that sounds too good to be true and sometimes it is) If something happens during the night, such as a member of staff is taken ill, one of the boys has to be taken to a&e and that member of staff needs to be relieved, there is an emergency, such as a fire, security incident or urgent help from another member of staff is needed, if there is a safeguarding concern etc) I am on Sleep in for the Birds and Jets Unit tonight, as on each floor there is a sleep in member of staff for each unit on that floor. (Except for Sick Bay, which doesn’t need sleep in cover. Usually on Sleep In, I do a “late shift” and then go to bed after. The Sleep In Room is off the stairwell and is en suite. There is a bed, bedside table, desk, telephone and chair. There is also a hook, which has a torch hung on it, along with a clipboard; which has a list of children who are boarding on the units, emergency contacts and other important info. The beginning of this shift, always starts with a handover, as normal.

When I am on an early shift, I start work at 7am. This always starts with Handover, where we get an update on the events of the night before. This may include kids who may have been unwell in the night, including those sent to Sick Bay, had the doctor our or have been sent to a&e. Also behavioural issues, welfare issues, (such as if a boarder is upset or if a member of staff is worried about a pupil. Handover only lasts 15 minutes and after this, we go to wake the boarders.

Once the boarders are up, we assist with personal care, such as showering, getting dressed etc. Meanwhile, the hot trolley will come up from the kitchen, with porridge, toast and cereal. The Unit Housekeeper will make pots of tea and coffee, juice and milk for breakfast. I like Early shifts, because I can have breakfast with the kids and it is a good way to socialise. Breakfast is at 8am) After this, I do medication, making sure that the kids get their morning medication. Some of the meds are oral, but there are a couple of boys, who have to have it injected into them. (Insulin dependent boarders)

On a school day, the boys go over to the playgrounds, ready for school at 8.45. The only exception to this, is when it is wet, very windy or snowy. In these situations, they are allowed to remain on unit, until the bell sounds at 9am. Staff will then escort pupils over to school.

 Staff remain on unit, until 11am and complete their paperwork and take kids to hospital appointments, dental appointments and other appointments.

Late Shifts begin at 2pm and as normal, start with a handover. Over in the main school, there is a pigeon hole for each of the units. Teaching Staff can use this to pass on information about a pupil, where appropriate. This is then used at Handover.

We fetch the kids from school at 3.15 and supervise activities, before and after tea. On a Tuesday, I also hold a “House Meeting”, which all boarders on my unit, are welcome to attend. (I am the Unit Leader for Jets, but am more commonly known as the House Parent In Charge. I work part time in this role)  House meetings are a platform for discussing issues around the unit and for me to update boarders on unit \ school news. Later in the evening, I may be tasked to  supervise bathing \ showers and assist as needed. I don’t always do this, it depends on staffing and if it is my turn on the rota. I do this  a couple of times a week.

If I am on a late, I finish at 10pm. However, we do a handover at the end of my shift.

When I am on a “Waking Night shift, I start at 9pm. This will start with a handover. Usually, some of the kids have gone to bed by the end of handover, while some will be watching a film on DVD or playing pool. Btw, there are always  a couple of members of staff around during handover, keeping an eye on the kids and answering buzzers.  At 9.45, the lid goes on the pool table and the TV goes off.

Once the kids are in bed, I usually go to the Unit Leader’s Office and do paperwork for the shift. I also go every half a hour, to check the kids who I am looking after, (Normally I have 3 kids to keep an eye on) By then, I am probably through my 2nd cup of coffee.

Later on, I will take our unit laundry down to the laundry room. This is also in J Block. (The residential block.) Usually, this is the kids school clothes, towels and tabbards. (used on kids who make a mess when eating) Each Unit blue tacks a Unit Label to the machine, so that staff know which unit is using which machine. I will pop down a couple more times, to transfer clothes to the dryers and to then to press them.

By now it is 5am, so I usually finish paperwork, answer the odd buzzer call and lay the tables for breakfast. (I also answer buzzer calls through the night)

Finally, at 7am, I have handover with the AM staff, have breakfast with the kids and then at 8.30, go home and go to bed! (I  do 1 sleep in shit and 2 Waking Night shifts each week.)

So now you know what shifts I do and what they entail. Care work is knackering but rewarding and I enjoy every day of it.

Happy Valentines Day!

First, the good news is that we have stood down from the Major Incident, declared earlier this week. Thank you to all the staff and volunteers who helped out, while Storm Ceira battered our school. Thankfully, we only suffered minor damage to the school buildings.

Tonight has been the Valentines Disco, which Sam put on. The boys were able to invite their “sweethearts” to the disco and of course me and Sam had a dance too! Earlier on, we also put on a dinner for the the valentines couples, before the disco and it was nice to see the boys dressed up for the occasion.

Earlier today, Sam gave me my valentines presents. It started with a bunch of red roses, then at lunchtime, he arrived in a horse and cart, which took us to a restaurant for a romantic dinner. (Shame we were both working and could not have any wine! I had coke and Sam had J20.)  I got Sam a gold chain, which I had engraved, and I bought him David Beckham smellies.

This afternoon, I did a “refresher” on my AED Training. (Automated Electric Defibrillator) so I am now refreshed on operating a defibrillator. (I have only ever had to use one once!)

I am on sleep in tonight at work and then working an early shift tomorrow. I will write a post on this before I go to bed, explaining this.

Night all, sleep well! x

Batten Down The Hatches – Storm Kiera

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We’re preparing for Storm Kiera, which already has hit the UK. With a severe weather warning issued for wind and rain, we’re taking safety precautions. to protect our home, the kids and our school, after Sam, our Head (Karen) and I have had a meeting regarding the storm:

At school, Sam has:

  • Moved the benches that are not anchored to the concrete playground, into the bin store
  • Removed all the bins and bought them into B Block
  • Performed an emergency generator test
  • instructed staff to park in the main car park and not the J Block car park (as there are trees)
  • Instructed staff to use the link bridge to J Block, if boarders are taking part in activities in the Gym, Swimming Pool or the main school.
  • Instructed the Caterers to use the lift to the 1st floor of B Block and use the link bridge to access J Block.

I have also cancelled all off site activities this weekend, due to the strong winds.

At home, Jenny and I have been battening down the hatches:

  • We’ve removed the swing from the garden and put it in the garage
  • We removed the patio furniture and put that into the garage
  • Removed the garden gnomes and bought them in
  • Covered the climbing frame with Tarp and pinned it down with pegs
  • I have got all the torches on charge
  • I have tested the emergency lights

Please take extra care this weekend, as Storm Kera is going to cause mega disruption. Please only travel if you need top and keep an eye on the Met Office website to keep up to date with the latest storm info. www.metoffice.gov.uk 

Meanwhile, I’d like to introduce a new member of our family. This is Peppy, our Bengal Cat. We were asked to take hr in by a work colleague, who could not keep her. The kids and even Sox really love her! She was very nervous for the 1st couple of days we had her. However, last night, she curled up with Sox on the end of Kyrlo’s bed. She purrs and purrs when being stroked, but she isn’t too keen to be picked up. (But we are working on that!

Peppy

Right now though, it’s movie night and we are watching Pan, which is the back story of Peter Pan and before Captain Hook was a pirate. (He was just known as Hook and still had both his hands.) In the film, it shows Peter Pan, (Levi Miller)  in a orphanage, run by the evil Mother Barnabas,  (Played by Kathy Burke) and his escape to “Never-land”. This is where he meets James Hook, (Garrett Hedlund) who is trapped in the mines, under the control of Black Beard. (Hugh Jackman) With the help of Tinkerbell,  they defeat Blackbeard and rescue the other kids from Mother Barnabas.

Working Late

I am working late again tonight, thankfully I am at home. Today, I had to chaperone one of the kids, while had day surgery today. Everything went OK for the child involved and he is being looked after in Sick Bay. This meant that most of today, was spent sitting around in the Children’s Ward at the Hospital, but I didn’t mind.

Once I got back to work, I took our poorly pupil to Sick Bay, I went on my rounds. I do a rounds of all the units, at least twice a day. It’s a chance for me to interact with the kids and also to deal with any issues staff have.  When I got home, some of our kids were in bed, so I went up to check on them and had a quick game of pool with Josh and then hit the paperwork.

I also sent an email to all parents re: the Norovirus, as follows:

Dear Parents and Carers,

As you may be aware, we have a minor outbreak of the Norovirus. Please be assured, that only a few children are infected and we are currently keeping them isolated on their unit. Because of this, the Squirrels Unit is currently closed to all visitors, unless there is a urgent reason for visiting. This must be agreed in advance. so please contact the Unit and speak to the Unit Leader, before visiting.  Isolating the few pupils with the virus, will help us to prevent the virus spread to other pupils \ staff and visitors.

Please be re-assured: Your son’s welfare is high priority and we are working hard to contain the virus and stop it from infecting other children. If your son does have the virus, they will be assessed and treated accordingly. Dr. Robinson and Dr. Daryk are providing support to staff as needed and your son will be given medication; to stop  the symptoms of diarrhoea and medication to stop your son being sick.

Please feel free to ring the Unit to speak to your child on: (number omitted)  You may also use this number to speak to staff, if you have any concerns. You can also contact Sick Bay on: (number omitted,) where one of the nursing staff is available to answer any questions you may have.

If you or your child have had symptoms of the Norovirus, please do not send your child to school and keep your child at home for at least 48 hours after the the sickness and diarrhoea stops. This is to prevent re-infection of the virus and to stop it spreading around school.  

At the entrance to the main school building, the entrance to J Block and at the entrance to each unit; there are sanitizer points, which you can use on your hands. Please sanitize your hands on entry and exit of the buildings, to help contain the virus.

We are hoping that we will be able to re-open the Squirrels Unit to visitors on Tuesday and another email will be sent out regarding this, in due course.

If you have any worries or concerns, please feel free to give me a ring on: (number omitted) and I will be happy to answer any questions, worries or concerns you may have.

Kindest regards,

Kyle McLaughlin,
Head of Care


I still got quite a bit of paperwork to do and I know I will be at it for a hour or 2. The good news is, I am on a waking night shift tomorrow, as I was covering on another unit and that means that I didn’t do my waking night shift on the Jets Unit on Friday night.

Told you I am a busy bee!

We Are Rated Outstanding AGAIN!

BAN_SCH001Our Boarding Provision has been rated outstanding for the FIFTH YEAR RUNNING!! The inspectors were very impressed with our Boarding Provison and said that the boarding pupils have positive experiences. They are thriving and developing valuable life skills as a direct result of their attendance at this school. Th They all identified that their relationships with the boarding staff, and with each other, are ‘one of the best things’.

The Care Staff, known as House Parents, were inspected as genuinely caring and nurturing, which has a significant impact on the boarders. This offers them stability and emotional security. The boarders had told the inspectors that nothing was too much trouble and staff would always make time to listen and support young people in our care.

The inspectors found that we provide extensive pastoral support ensures that the boarders have several options where they can seek guidance and advice. This includes counselling, interdependent visitors, access to mental health support etc. The inspectors also said that primary health and well-being needs of boarders are met. They visited Sick Bay and spoke to patients and staff. Care in Sick Bay was found to be more than adequate, with  provision for inpatient care and also the day unit for pupils who cannot learn in a traditional classroom, due to health problems \ disabilities.

The Kids told the inspectors that they feel safe. They are confident that they would tell  a member of staff if they were worried about any issues. All the boarding staff have received level 1 safeguarding training, and the Head of Care (Kyle) is a designated safeguarding lead. The boarders re very respectful of the boarding staff and each other. The school educates all the pupils about the risks that they may encounter, and how to get help. This empowers the boarders to be aware and self-reliant. reduce the likelihood of behavioral issues or unwanted behavior. On top of this, the school has self defnce classes, taught by Sam. This is not to teach them to fight, but to use self defense, (Aikido) in the situation where they are in danger and have no choice but to defend themselves. As a school, we teach our kids to run from danger and to find an adult for help. This could be  in a nearby shop, a library or a public building. They are also taught the best weapon to use is their voice and to use it, by continuously  shouting HELP! loudly.

The inspectors were very impressed with the activities provided. One inspector really enjoyed the PAT Session. (Pets as Therapies, when Sox visits.) The inspectors said that the structured sessions and free time, allows the kids to have time for free play, as well as joining in on several planned activities every day.

Environmental health and safety and fire safety was inspected as very good. The school ensures that regular health and safety checks are carried out and that all utilities are regularly checked and serviced. The boarders also know what to do in an emergency, should they not be able to find a member of staff. Staff recruitment is thorough, which protects the boarders students from having access to unsuitable adults. Each Unit has enough staff to cover each shift, meaning that adequate supervision is provided.

I got to thank the kids and the staff, we would not of been rated outstanding if it wasn’t for them! I am proud of the kids and staff, together we work together to provide a safe and happy home for the boys we care for! 🙂

A difficult Time

We’ve been looking after a Pupil in Sick Bay, who has got Cancer. I cannot name the Pupil or what sort of Cancer he has had, but he has been receiving Chemo on Sick Bay for the last few months and has been really poorly.

We got the news on Monday that the cancer has spread and that this Young Person may only live until February next year.  I went with this young person to see the Pediatric  Oncologist. I will admit I did get upset myself and so did he. It is a hard subject to get your head around and can be very distressing.

Thoughts then turned to his Palliative Care and his options. He made it quite clear to me and the doctor, that he wanted to spend his final days at school, with his friends around him. I thought this was a very brave statement to make for a 13 year old. Of course, this is not a problem and he will be cared for in Sick Bay, the same as any other pupil would. (Remember, lots of our kids live on site 24 \ 7 all year round)

I’d already spoken to his  Mum while I left him in the play room for a few minutes. I needed a cigarette and I think, with the bad news, you cannot blame me. I arranged for his mum to come and see me at school and we could then talk things through and make a proper plan for his care.

When we got back to school and I had taken him back to Sick Bay, I popped down to the hall and spoke to Karen and explained what was going on. She let me break the news to the school and I said that support will be given to pupils, if they need to talk about this delicate subject and that as a school, we need to be behind this young person and be there for him. I have not openly spoken in Assembly before and I think the kids and staff were shocked to hear the news. I encouraged the kids to visit him in Sick bay, during break, lunch and after school and to help keep his spirits up.

After Assembly, I met with his mum on Sick Bay, who had arrived before I had come back. I said that in the circumstances, I will allow open visiting, so she can come and see her son when she wants to and for as long as needed. If there’s a problem with this, she was told to get someone to bleep me. Dr Darak also has said that she will do anything she can to help and can be bleeped too, if needed.

The pupil in question then asked me to do something I didn’t think he would do. He’s been stuck in Sick Bay for a few months now and  hasn’t really left the unit, apart from Hospital Appointments. He’s been cared for by our Nurses and  Health Care Assistants, under the care of our in house GPs.

He had asked to go outside for break time with the other kids, which was not a problem, as we put him in a wheelchair and I took him outside. I was shocked when I wheeled him out, with his drip on the back of his chair, wrapped up in blankets. The kids and staff on the playground stopped what they were doing and actually applauded the lad. I thought this was so special, as it showed the school was behind him and actually made me feel emotional myself.

He has received lots of visitors, from staff and pupils. However, we are mindful that his mum will want to spend time with him too, so we did ask visitors to come back, if he is with his mum.  However, she said it is important that he has his friends around him and does not mind him having friends come to see him.

Karen, myself and Sam visit as much as we can. I spare a couple of hours during the work day and after work to see him. I have bought him in the spare Xbox from home and a TV, so he can play on that when he gets board.  I also arranged for Rosemary (who is one of our Counselors) to go up and see him, to provide him and his mum emotional support. I talk with him, reassure him and hold his hand. It’s hard for me to be upset, as we are suppose to be professional, but I cannot hold it back. I’ll admit I’ve cried with him and I’ve cried walking out of Sick Bay. I am getting support myself from the school counselling service and have been told it’s OK to cry and to be upset. I hate the kids to see me cry and I have only shown emotions to the kids a few times.

The months ahead will be tough, but with the school behind him, he knows that he is not alone and that he’s getting the best care possible. This has hit the staff and the kids hard and is the 1st time we have ever had this situation.

I am going back up to see him in a minute, but I know you, the bloggers who follow Sam and I on this blog, also send your best wishes and lots of love to a family, who have been knocked back by terrible terrible news, which sadly won’t have a happy ending. 😦

Trouble At The Beginning Of Term

So, term is back in swing and the new boarders have arrived and are into their 1st week at school. However, this evening, 2 boys have landed themselves in big trouble for breaking school rules and vandalism.

It started on Monday, when I was on the Jets Unit, which I am House Parent for. On the 1st afternoon of the school year, I do a getting to know you session, where I go through the rules of the units, who the staff are, the structure etc. On one of these items I go through is smoking and that it is not allowed on school premises. We offer pupils help for pupils to stop smoking and we can give out patches as needed. We also ask that if pupils have smoking materials, that they are handed into staff.

However, a pair of 13 year old lads on the Adolescent Unit , decided the rules do not apply to them and this evening, forced the window in their bedroom window open, breaking the safety catches and then went out on the flat roof for a cigarette. From what I can gather, the pair had done this a couple of times, before being caught by a member of staff walking past their room and smelling smoke. (I am surprised domestics did not notice the broken catch, when they hoovered their room.)

The boys were soon sent to me. Of course I have a zero tolerance view about this. (I know, I smoke I am bias in some ways, but in school I have to enforce the rules. Also I smoke off site) The pair got a right telling off, as well as being grounded for the whole weekend. Their cigarettes and lighters were confiscated and destroyed and the pair will have pocket money docked, to pay for the window safety latches to be repaired. In the meantime, Sam has boarded up the window, for safety until the latch is fixed. 

What a crap start to the week!

Final Weekend in Blackpool

So it is our last weekend here in Blackpool and it has been a fun one so far! Last night, we went to the pub for a meal and we stayed on for Karaoke. Sam and I sang a few songs, including The Drifters – Saturday night At the movies and Westlife Ft. Diana Ross – When you tell me that you love me. While singing the latter, the other people in the pub, were waving their mobile phones and singing along. We got a massive applause for it too!

Sam and Linda have taken the kids to have a ride on a vintage tram, while I am still at the hotel, looking after Toby, as he’s feeling  not well just now. (He will be OK he often has days when he’s not too good) Meanwhile, Josh has gone down to the hotel pool, as they have “funsplash” this afternoon, with a inflatable island that he can run across, trying not to be knocked in to the pool!

This evening is the kids talent show and the boys are taking part. Hopefully Toby will feel better by then, as he going to do magic tricks. All the boys are entering, doing various acts, from circus stuff to rollerblade stunts.

Tomorrow, we are going to the Sandcastle Waterpark, which should be fun. I am, deffo going on all the flumes and ride the waves in the wave pool! Meanwhile, back to today, I am catching up on a few bits, while sat in the bar in the hotel. Don’t worry though, as I am nipping up every 45 mins to check on Toby and I have told him to use the phone if he needs me. (He just has to pick up the phone and press the button that says Bar and ask to speak to me. – ask for the large ginger haired guy on a acer laptop.) Talking of which, I need to nip up and check on him!

Blackpool (2nd Holiday Post)

Greetings from Blackpool. We’re about half way through our 2 weeks of fun by the sea and we have been having a great time!  Today, we have been back to the Tower, as Toby didn’t get a chance to go up, as he was not very well. So we did the circus and Toby got a special hello from Mookie the Clown, who he got to meet and have his picture taken with during the intermission and at the tower top, I got to take this breathtaking photo of Blackpool.

This evening, there’s a disco for the kids, so we are all going downstairs for that. No doubt, Sam and I will have a couple of pints too!  Tomorrow, the weather is going to be bad, so we have planned indoor activities. We’re taking the kids to Madam Tussauds in the morning and in the afternoon, we are taking the boys to a indoor soft play centre.

Before I go, I need to mention that the hotel food is fantastic. It is a buffet with several choices of hot and cold food and deserts. The kids are able to have as much or as little as they want! Tonight, I had roast pork with all the trimmings and Jam Rollie Poly for pud!

Greetings from Blackpool!

Greetings from Blackpool! The Smith Family are here in Blackpool for our annual Summer Holiday by the sea! Most of the family arrived here yesterday lunchtime, but I arrived later last night, due to dealing with a last minute hiccup at work.

Btw,  Sam’s Mum is looking after Sox and Mollie while we are away.

We are staying in one of the larger chained Hotels here in Blackpool and are not far from the beach. The Hotel is nice, as it has a pool for the kids, a kids club and a couple of bars for me and Sam. I book this holiday months and months in advance and make sure we are in a block of rooms, instead of all over the place. I also make sure that the phones are taken out the kids room as well. 🙂

So after a decent night’s kip, a shower and breakfast, Sam and I took the kids to the Tower, where we watched the circus, (with fountain finale) watched the dancing in the ball room and braved the “walk of faith” at the tower top. After lunch, we have been on the beach. The kids have enjoyed paddling, while Sam and I sat in deckchairs, enjoying the sun! (I have had a paddle too and helped the kids build sandcastles!)

Kyle enjoying the beach

This evening, Kyrlo and Josh want to check out the hotel pool, so I am taking them swimming, (even though they have been to the beach) while the other boys go to the kids club. (Sam is taking Zak and Will swimming tomorrow evening) Tomorrow we are hitting the Pleasure Beach and I will be taking Kyrlo, Toby and Zak on the slower rides. (I so want to go on the Wallace and Gromit Ride and on the driving ride!)

Let hope the weather stays good and our holiday is not like last year’s! (Toby had to be rushed to hospital during last year’s holiday, as he got Septicemia, due to his kidney transplant he had a couple of years back. Sam sat with him day and night in Intensive Care, while Toby was fighting for his life. It was very touch and go, but Toby fought off the infection and is OK now, thankfully.)