When The Kids Shock You With Their Talents!

On Friday, at our weekly £It’s The Weekend Party,” (Which we do in the Sports Hall and is Karaoke and Disco, which is very popular with the kids) a lad, who was placed at our school just before the Easter Break, shocked me, shocked Sam and shocked the other kids with his voice. The lad I am talking about is 14 and is very shy. However, he decided to sing on Friday night, something Sam has never been requested to play.

He had requested to sing Nessun Dorma, which is by Luciano Pavarotti. It is a track that is very hard to sing and I got to give it to this lad, because he shocked everyone. The song is difficult as it was and on the last part, where he sings the line

Dilegua, oh notte!  Tramontate, stelle! Tramontate, stelle! All’alba vincerò! Vincerà! Vincerò!

shocked everyone, as the last part you really need to hold the note for quite a while. When he sang the final Vincerò! he held the last note, which caused me to drop my drink. I have not seen a child be able to sing like this, ever! It was a right shock and he got a standing ovation from the care staff and the other kids. Aparently he was taught to sing like this by his Grandad. It’s amazing!

Meanwhile, I have moved to a temporary office, while the roof in J Block is repaired. (As you will already know, my office is on the top floor of the building) So now I am in a Portakabin for the next few weeks, while the roof is repaired and the top floor offices are repainted and re-carpeted, after water ingress, due to the leaking roof.  It will do for now. Our 2 floor Portakabin is behind J Block at the moment and you can see the Laundry and Boiler House in the background. I must also thank Sam for helping us move everything out. Our Portakabin may be smaller and we have no kitchen for making brews, (we have to do that from the General Care Office) but at least it’s water tight and at least we have loos!

I got rather peeved this afternoon, when I get a call from one of the Units, as a parent had turned up and decided she wanted her son to come home.  However she knows he can’t as there is a Care Order.

A care order is given by a court. It allows a council to take a child into care. Under the Children Act 1989 a council can apply for a care order if it believes a child is suffering or at risk of suffering significant harm.

The court decides if the child can be taken into care.

Care orders last until:

  • the child’s 18th birthday
  • an order is made giving parental responsibility to another person – eg through adoption or special guardianship
  • the court lifts the order (this is called ‘discharging’ the order)

This boarder in question, has been with us for a couple of  years now.

The Care Order means by law, we are responsible for the care of this child. His mum turning up just made matters worse, so I got a call to come and deal with it. (As I am on Call this all of this weekend) Thankfully her son didn’t get to hear all the commotion or he would of ended up being very upset.

The mother of this child does not know when to keep her mouth shut and all I got was verbal abuse. I know the kids sometimes tell me to F*** off, but this woman’s every sentence had the F word in it.  I had had enough and asked her to leave. Of course she refused, so I asked her again and got told where to stick it. So I pulled out my phone and I called the Police. (999) She got arrested for breaching the peace and more than likely will be locked up until tomorrow. As for the boarder in question, I did speak to him and let him know what had happened. He wasn’t impressed.

While it’s dry, I am heading out to the garden and play footie with our boys.

Shift From Hell!!! – Thanks Storm Gareth!

x1080-dQZ
Mother Nature was well and truly on her monthly last night!

Last night was a very tricky and interesting shift. I’ve had a few shifts, where things go wrong, but not on this level.

I was on a cover shift last night, as the Unit Manager got stuck due to the bad weather. By about 10pm, it was very windy, as Storm Gareth took hold. There was not much we could do but get everyone to bed and  batten down the hatches. By midnight, the wind was very very strong and caused a power cut.

Normally, Power cuts do not cause a problem at work, as J Block has it’s own pair of Diesel Generators on the roof of the building and the main school have their own set of generators in-between D and J Block, on the lower ground floor. In the event of a voltage drop, the generators are supposed to kick in and take over the supply, before a blackout occurs. In our case, obviously not! For some reason, the automated transfer did not happen and I had to call home and get Sam, as the whole building lost power. At the time the power had failed, I was hoisting one of the disabled kids from the bathroom to his bedroom.

None of the kids were put in danger by the power failure, as we were able to put any critical equipment onto battery power, while Sam manually switched us across to the emergency power. The Care Call System also has battery backups and we were able to monitor the kids as normal.

So once the power was back on and I could get on and do some work on the computer, things seemed to get going well. A couple of hours past, and then… The fire alarm went off. on Continuous “Evacuate” signal.

FYI: The Fire Alarm has 2 separate alarm tones. Intermittent Wailing (Fire elsewhere in the building) and Continuous Wailing. (Evacuate) Intermittent wailing sounds on for 5 seconds and then stays off for 2 seconds and then repeats. Evacuate is a continuous long tone. Both are extremely loud!

So I followed the School’s Residential Block Fire Procedures and sent someone to go to the Fire Repeater Panel, find out where the fire alarm has been activated from and then radio through the information.

As a serious developing emergency was ongoing, it was apparent that the alarm, (which we had no idea was a false alarm) was coming from the Generator Plant on the roof. This now leaves me with making a hard decision, Evacuate or not. I decided that partial evacuation was the safest option and ordered all available staff to scramble to the 3rd floor to assist with evacuation. I then, (as per procedure) telephoned the Head to brief her on the ongoing drama. I also dialled 999 and called for the Fire Brigade.

We evacuated as many kids as we could on beds, using the Evacuation Lift and carried smaller children down the stairs. We evacuated everyone to the 2 units on the 2nd floor, while staff re-assured the kids on the other units that everything was OK and to stay in bed until told otherwise.

The Fire Brigade were on scene very quickly. The first thing they took care of, was the supply to the generators. Not being able to see to the roof and with the high winds, the Firemen used the internal stairs to the 4th floor and then used the access door to the roof.

Thankfully, it was a false alarm and the generators had not caught fire! Water ingress had got into the generator housing and into one of the smoke alarms. The water had set off the sensor, which then sent a urgent message to the Fire Alarm Panel. The system is setup, so that if a fire breaks out in either generator, it sends a immediate evacuate signal. A fire in the Generator plant is rare but could be deadly.

Sam was able to isolate the smoke alarm in question, while leaving the other 2 in tact. The Firemen were really helpful and helped us get the kids back to their units.

We finally stood down at 3.30am this morning and managed to get the kids back to bed. However, we had a lot to write in the kids log books, as well as the unit log books. I am glad when it was morning and I could handover to the morning staff.

I don’t know how Sam managed to do a full day at work, after only getting 2 hours sleep! (Luckily our live in carer at home, looked after our boys) or the kids on the units, who were rudely awoken by the fire alarm. However, it was a test of our emergency awareness and professionalism in such an emergency. (Even though we didn’t intend for this to happen.

I’ve been into work for a couple of hours today and was told that the kids felt reassured, by the way that we dealt with the situation and felt safe knowing we had everything in hand.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on site; we had a tree come down and flattened our old Portakabin, which is no longer used. (As it is not fit for purpose)

I hope I NEVER have a shift like this again… All HELL broke loose.

As for me, I got a hot date with the bath and a glass of Prosecco. Cheers! 🙂

Yes, I know it has been ages!

Once again, sorry for the lack of posts, over the last few months. Sam and I have not had a chance to blog much, but we will try and keep you updated with what’s happening at our end, as much as we can.

So, here’s what’s been going on, condensed; as I am actually at work and posting this on my break.

Major Building Work on B Block

B Block at school is currently closed and has been, since November. The reason for this, is because of asbestos removal. B Block is riddled with it and it is cheaper to remove it, than spend millions knocking the block down and rebuilding. So we have hording all around B Block, access is currently blocked off and it means pupils need to go via D Block; to access A and C Block. We also have a temporary modular building, which currently holds the Kitchen and Canteen. (Once the asbestos is removed, we are having a new kitchen installed and a larger canteen area.

Work is going well and we hope that by April, all the building work will be done.

Poorly Toby

One of the kids we foster was taken very ill in the Summer Holidays, after getting Septis and was rushed into hospital while we were in Blackpool. Toby was well looked after at the Victoria Hospital, before being air lifted to Sheffield, for specialist ITU treatment. Sam stayed with him all the way and Toby made a full recovery.

The Septis was caused by a wound which got infected, after he had a kidney transplant. Toby came to us after his operation and a 3 week stay at the  Children’s Hospital in Sheffield. Our “Tobes” is getting better and stronger every day. He no longer uses a wheelchair or sticks, but gets tired very easily. Due to this, he uses the Day Teaching Unit on Sickbay, where if needed, he can rest.

Christmas and NYE

Christmas was very busy for us all. Sam was working on Christmas day, after the Care Staff accidentally activated the Fire Alarm, while cooking and the birds until lost all lighting, due to a fault with a light fitting.

I worked Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve on Waking Night (Christmas Eve) and Sleep In on NYE. We let the kids stay up on the Unit I am in charge of, to tire them out mainly, as they were so hyper about Christmas! (Can you blame them?)

On Christmas Morning, I drove home, opened presents with the kids and then went to bed. In the afternoon, the family arrived and we had Christmas Dinner, which got delayed, due to the fire alarm activation. (Sam had to respond to it) Later, I was back on night shift again.

I was off Boxing Day and worked days on the 27th – 30th. On New Year’s eve, we had a party over in the School Gym, which surprisingly, our Head and a few other teachers attended. (I wonder if she used the cattle prod to make them come.) Sam did his usual Karaoke and Disco, which was great fun. At midnight, we sang Auld Langs Ayne and rang in the new year together.

As I said, Sam and I will try to post as often as we can. We haven’t forgotton you, it’s a case of finding 5 mins to blog. Right break over, so back to work I go.

Finally… From myself, Sam, Toby, Kyrlo, Liam, Will, Linda, Derek, Tommy and Martha, (Tommy and Martha are my parents, Linda is Sam’s Mum and Derek is his Step Dad)  Sox the cat and and from all the staff here at school (boarders too) we would like to wish you a happy and safe new year and here’s to 2019!

Happy Father’s Day! :)

To all the Dads, Grandads, Foster Dads and anyone else who has parental responsibilities, Happy Father’s Day!

Our Father’s Day here started as always, with Breakfast in bed from the kids. Bless them, they got up at 5am to make breakfast and actually managed it without trashing the kitchen! I’d been at work, so it was nice to get into bed and have breakfast bought to me!

After Breakfast, I got some shut eye, while Sam took the kids swimming. Thankfully, our school has it’s indoor pool, so it meant that the swimming pool in town being closed for a Gala, would not cause us any losses!

I didn’t get the amount of sleep I would of liked to as I was woken up by the phone and was needed, as we had a rather poorly pupil; who needed to go to the Hospital. (He will be fine and is being kept an eye on in Hospital.) This meant that being one man down, I had to go back into work. However, that wasn’t a bad thing at all, as the kids had made a “Happy Fathers Day banner, with the words Kyle, the coolest alternative dad ever!” and hung it from the windows of the 2nd floor. That really touched me and meant alot to me as well. I also got a stack of cards from the kids, which was really sweet.

Meanwhile, I missed the picnic with the family, but Father’s day was great this year! Apart from all the cards from the kids at work, I got some aftershave from our kids and Sam got shower gels and body sprays. The kids at work all put money together to buy me a rode for the garden, which I am going to plant in the garden next to J Block, when I get a chance to!

Sorry For The Lack Of Posts…

Sam and I are sorry for the lack of posts recently. We have both been really really busy at work and with the family, so we have not had a chance to show our faces! Christmas was very busy as ever and we had my Parents down to spend it with Sam, myself and the kids. On top of this, very late on Christmas Eve, we had a extra arrival. (No Not Santa, he came much later in the night!)

We had an emergency come in, in the form of a 13 year old lad called Abu. Abu is originally from Crimea, which is the same place Kyrlo is from originally. (For those of you who do not know, Kyrlo is our youngest son, we adopted a while back) Anyway, there are legal reasons I cannot go into, why Abu cannot be deported like his parents are going to be. (They are currently in detention in a Immigration Centre) However, Social Services have managed to twist HM Immigration’s arm on health grounds, to give Abu leave in the UK. It means he will be separated from his family, but as I said before, there are reasons I cannot go into for this.

Sam and I got some wonderful gifts this year. I got a new Kilt from Linda and smellies from the kids. Sam got me new car seat covers for the car and a really nice ring, which he had engraved for me. I got Sam a dustpan and brush as a joke, as well as smellies, new steel toecapped boots, a new tablet, plus new bike leathers. He got tons of chocolate off the kids as well. The kids has all sorts of gizmos, from drones, to new Ninteno Switch consoles, DVDs and wonzies! Course, for Linda and my parents,gift vouchers were the way to go, as they can spend them on what they want! Oh and not forgetting Sox…. He got a huge memory foam cushion, which he loves and enjoys stretching out on it in front of the open fire.

On New Year’s eve, we joined the Boarders for a massive NYE bash, which Sam organized, with fireworks being let off at midnight, from the field. We’re both back at work again now and the new term starts next week. Shame Sam and I both have the awful cod going about. It’s not nice!

Anyway, from myself, Sam and our family, we wish you and your family a very Happy New Year and all the best for 2018! (We’ll try not to leave it as long before posting, just in case you wanted to make sure we are still alive!)

Blast From The Past

Our Super NES came today, which we got on Ebay, so we could do a bit of Retro Gaming. So for this week’s Family night, we have been playing Mario 3 on the NES and completing it without warping, with each of the kids playing a act on each world, before passing to the next person. Kyle and I however, played the Doom Ships, as they are really tricky to navigate.

2 and a half hours later and we have finally managed to reach King Koopa and the epic final Boss Battle with King Koopa on the battlements of his castle in Dark Land. (A sinister land, where it is cold; creepy and very dangerous, with all sorts of  traps and several Doom Ship convoys.

Super Mario Bros. 3 Final Battle, on the Battlements of King Koopa’s Castle (World 8)

The final battle was played by each of us, (Even though we all ended up dying and having to pass the controller round again!) but it was Kyrylo who skillfully defeated King Koopa and rescued the Princess Toadstool.

The final battle is very tricky. You need to avoid Koopa’s “butt stomp attacks” and his fireballs, (Caused by his hideous bad breath! You need to get him to butt stomp the battlements, so that the layers of brick are reduced. In between his attacks, you need to make him break the 3 layers of bricks, so he falls to his death. (Yes, it sounds grim, I know!) Once you have done that, a door will open and you will be able to rescue the Princess Toadstool! (Were Nintendo high on drugs when they created the Super Mario Bros???!!)

Anyway, below is a video of the final battle, so you can see for yourselves. (We didn’t make the video btw, we grabbed it off Youtube.)

Anyway, it was a fun night for all and in a way was a good team building exercise, as we all had to work together to complete the game!

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 🙂

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.

One of those nights!

Well, it’s 02:42 and I am up again, because Kyrlo is having one of those nights again, where he’s had a very bad nightmare and has been really distressed. I have just got him back to sleep and hes fast asleep on the settee in mine and Sam’s Study.

The poor wee lad has been to hell and back but he is slowly getting there. We are teaching him grounding techniques, which help him to deal with flashbacks.  Also he has periods where he stares into outer space and will not respond to you speaking him. So we have been shown another technique, where we hold his hand and say in very calm voice, “Kyrlo it’s Kyle, you are safe and you are at home. I am not going anywhere until I know your are OK. If you can hear me, squeeze my hand”. It does work and it  helps him to safely come out from a flashback, which usually is terrifying.

The top priority is to make sure Kyrlo is safe and that he knows we are there to support and protect him. The other kids know to look for the signs of Kyrlo having a flashback and to find one of us right away. Recovery for someone who has suffered such severe and prolonged trauma is slow, but with the support Kyrlo gets, I know he will be fine; even if it takes years of therapy until the end of his teenage years!)

I am off back to bed now, so I am gonna carry the wee lad back to bed and hopefully get some shut eye, as I am at work at 7am!