Compassionate, Honest and Unconditional Care

Last night, we had an emergency placement, of a ten year old lad called Max. I cannot go into the reason Max has been taken into care, but he has been placed with us for the time being. Sam and I are specialist Foster Carers and are the only Fostering Placement in the area, which deals with Trauma. Trauma can include, but is not limited to:

  • Abuse or neglect
  • Witnessing a traumatic event, such as a car accident or the sudden death of a loved one
  • Exposure to violence, alcohol misuse and drugs
  • Being made to do things that the child does not want to do

There are not enough Foster Families who can support kids with these issues and placements are very far and few between. As I say, I cannot go into the reasons why Max is in care, but I will say that he was put in a Children’s Home, which was inappropriate for his needs. This placement broke down and we had a call at Teatime, as he needed to be placed with us.

Everything was fine until 1am , when Sam and I heard a scream. Normally we can tell who is screaming, by the sound. However, this time, we couldn’t tell. So it meant going in and checking on each of the boys. We finally found out it was Max and I took him downstairs, made him a hot chocolate and reassured and calmed him down and talked to him about his nightmare.

With the types of placements we have, you have to have a lot of patience and understanding. You also need to be a good listener and be non judgemental. Sometimes, kids find trusting adults difficult, especially if they have been mistreated. I can speak from experience, as we have had many kids come through our door, with trust issues. We have also had kids who are afraid of the bath, due to fear of drowning and also several kids who cannot sleep without the light on.

We have to make special adjustments for kids like this, so that we can make sure they safe and that their wellbeing is always at the heart of what we do. Their safety is always top priority and that is why we have CCTV, Security Doors, monitored alarms etc. I think that the kids do not see the house as a “prison”, more like somewhere extremely safe, where they can get back to what is important – being a child and enjoying childhood.

On top of this, we strive to support kids placed with us as best we can and we will never turn away a child in need. (nor will we ever give up on a child in our care) These kids often are broken, have been failed and need lots of love, support, a listening ear and not fear judgement. That is what the kids we look after get, 24 hours a day. Sam, Jenny and I do not mind being woken up in the middle of the night, by one of the boys and they are encouraged to come and knock on the door, if they can’t sleep, are not well or need to talk. We’re always happy to have a chat about what ever is bothering them. Sadly, (in the middle of the night) a lot of Foster Carers will talk to the child in question and then send them back to bed 10 mins later, with the problem half fixed. This is where we make a “positive difference,” because no matter what time it is, we will make the time to listen and support our kids, with open, honest and unconditional love.

Max was OK after he sat with me for 2 hours last night. It took some time to calm him down and to talk about how he was feeling. Thankfully, by 5am, we had managed to get him settled and back to bed. He is looking forward to going on holiday next week to Skegness with Sam, myself, Jenny, Sam’s mum Linda and the other boys. Max has never been on holiday before, so it is a bit daunting for him. However, he can’t wait, after finding out what’s on offer!

Max will be Ok, he just needs stability and the correct level of support and that is what he will get, while he is with us.

A Guide to Lift Emergencies

Many Schools have lifts these days and it is important that the lifts are regularly serviced and inspected, to prevent mechanical breakdown and to prolong the life of your lift. In my school, we have 4 passenger lifts and a larger Service Lift. There lifts are in various parts of the building and allow disabled people to access other floors in the building.

But what if the lift breaks down suddenly? All lifts these days, have alarms to call for help. Pressing the red alarm button in our lifts, connects the user to Switchboard during the day and the Sick Bay Nurses Station out of hours. Staff can then speak to the passengers and find out what the problem is. Normally, a lift breakdown is caused by a unplanned engagement of the emergency brake. This emergency break system, also prevents the lift from free-falling down the shaft and is controlled by a device called the Governor. The Governor uses. centrifugal force and moves a flyweights outward, pushing against a set of springs.  When spinning in this position, the hooked ends of the flyweights catch hold of ratchets mounted to a stationary cylinder surrounding the sheave. This works to stop the governor.

The governor cables are connected to the lift car via a movable actuator arm attached to a lever linkage. When the governor cables can move freely, the arm stays in the same position relative to the elevator car (it is held in place by tension springs). But when the governor sheave locks itself, the governor cables jerk the actuator arm up. This moves the lever linkage, which operates the brakes.

In addition, lifts have have electromagnetic brakes that engage when the car comes to a stop. The electromagnets actually keep the brakes in the open position, instead of closing them. With this design, the brakes will automatically clamp shut if the elevator loses power. Also, in the unlikely situation that a passenger forced the car doors open, the electromagnetic breaks would clamp shut, against the running rails either side of the lift and bring it to a halt. Elevators also have automatic braking systems near the top and the bottom of the elevator shaft. If the elevator car moves too far in either direction, the brake brings it to a stop.

If all else fails, and the elevator does fall down the shaft, there is one final safety measure that will probably save the passengers. The bottom of the shaft has a heavy-duty shock absorber system — typically a piston mounted in an oil-filled cylinder. The shock absorber works like a giant cushion to soften the elevator car’s landing.

Anyway, that’s enough of the safety systems and how they work. Lets look at an emergency situation, where the lift is trapped between floors. In this scenario, the lift has developed a fault and is stuck between the 12st and ground floor of J Block.. The passenger presses the lift alarm for 5 seconds, which telephones Switchboard or Sick Bay. Sick bay or Switchboard will either radio me, if I am on site, or phone me if off site. If there is a medical emergency or if the passenger is extremely distressed, Switchboard \ Sick Bay will call the Fire Brigade to rescue the passenger and inform me of this.

The 1st job I will do, is to get the shaft key and open the doors on the ground floor and look up, to see whee the lift is stuck. I will then try to speak to the person stuck in the lift and tell them that I am here and that we will lower the lift shortly. I then will slide the shaft doors shut and lock with the shaft key. Now, I need to walk up 5 flights of stairs, to walk 5 flights of stairs to the locked roof access door, (Or take the Service Lift to the 4th floor, and walk the remaining 1 flight.) Once on the roof, I can access the locked Lift Plant Room. You’re first priority is safety and due to this, you need to switch off the lift machinery, via the main Isolator Switch. It is important that you also “Lock out, Tag out” the switch, to ensure that the power is not switched back on accidently. I am going to do another guide on this, in due course.

If you have the correct training in lift lowering, please continue reading this section. If not, please skip to the next section.

First, we need to pull the lever on the wheel that the main lift cables are connected to. This will release the brakes on the lift car. Don’t worry, the Governor will stop the lift from falling! On the same wheel, pull out the handle, which is connected to the motor. You will need to slowly wind this handle anti-clockwise. It will be heavy, due to the weight of the lift, so wind slowly and the lift will move safely and easily. Keep winding until you reach the bottom of the shaft. Also remember to re-engage the brakes!

Now go back downstairs and open the doors to the lift shaft. The lift should now be in the right position and you should be able to prise the doors to the lift car open. If the lift is not in line with the floor, you should help the passenger to “alight” the lift. The person who has been stuck in the lift, may be shaken up a little. So, a friendly hug of reassurance might be needed.

Now you need to lock the shaft doors shut and place a “out of order” sign on the door.

Once the lift engineer has been and fixed the problem, remove the Lockout Tag Out device and switch the power back on to the lift. Don’t forget to write an incident report and file it correctly, depending on the procedures, set out by your School or Local Authority.

Testing Your Lift

Every day, I inspect our lifts, checking the doors open and close properly, that the alarm sounds outside the lifts, the selective floor control operates. (This needs a key to do this) the lights work and the fan is running. The kift will be taken out if use, anything is at fault (use the selective Floor Controls to do this) and an engineer called.

Remember: Safety First!

  • Lifts are dangerous, only attempt a lift rescue if you have had proper training of lowering a lift.
  • Always switch off the power to the lift and use Lockout Tagout, to prevent the power accidently being switched back on.
  • The lights, fan and alarm all have a battery backup on the roof of the lift car, so the lift won’t plunge into darkness!
  • Take care not to fall into the lift shaft, when looking up from the open doors!
  • Do not tell the passenger to force the car doors open. This could lead to injury or death and could also damage the lift car!
  • If you are unsure how to proceed, call a qualified Lift Engineer!
  • If the passenger is extremely distressed, dial 999 and ask for the Fire Brigade

It’s one of those nights!

Tonight’s shift isn’t going well. We have Boarders keep getting out of bed and saying it is too hot. We have windows open and fans are in limited supply. For our unit, we only have 3 fans for 15 boarders! There are other fans, but they have been assigned to other units, who are probably having the same problem as we are; here on Jets.

All I can really advise the kids to do, is to fold back the duvet and sleep without it over them. Also I am advising that they do not wear a PJ Top in bed, to help keep them cool and if they need a cold drink, to grab a glass of squash, which is on a trolley, near to the Staff Base. (Jugs of Orange and also Blackcurrant Squash is on offer, plus a jug of plain water.)

I have also advised boarders to take showers instead of baths. (Off the washroom, there are 2 bathrooms, with shower and bath facilities.) I have been onto Amazon and bought a few more fans, which run on USB. The cost of these will come out of our Unit’s budget, but it’s worth it, as they run on USB and it means each boarder can have a fan in their rooms. Also, the sockets in the bedrooms, have USB ports. So we can just plug them in; just like that.

Hopefully soon, this lot will quieten down and hopefully we won’t have boarders, getting out of bed and complaining about the heat, or pressing the call buzzer, in their rooms. Apart from the heat, my shift is going quite well. I have done log books, sorted pocket money for tomorrow, (Pocket Money is always handed our on a Saturday) and I have cleaned the unit fish tank.

I’m on Waking Night again tomorrow, covering for a colleague who is ill. I enjoy my job and spending time with the boarders. Night Shift is long and it it can be busy at times. Whether I am dealing with a pupil whose been sick, to boarders who have had a nightmare or are homesick, to those boarders who generally disrupt things, I take it all in my stride and be like Mary Poppins! (Firm but fair) The boarders affectionately know me as their “Care Bear) because I’m a larger kinda guy, who quite hairy, plus I genuinely, do care about each and every boarder. I make time for each and everyone of them and I think that is why the boarders love me so much. Plus, I am not like some Heads of Care, who only work Monday to Friday. I am at school on the units or in my office, 7 days a week. Plus I am always at the other end of the phone.

Anyway, enough of my waffling, I got laundry to do. On weekends, our Laundry Staff do not work, so the Unit staff have to do it, but I don’t mind!

Goodnight folks, sleep well x

PS: We do have Air Conditioning, the Office, Lounge and by Staff Base, all have Air Conditioners. If I could, I’d have every bedroom air conditioned, but it costs too much, so I doubt that will happen.

A Guide to Cleaning School Toilets Part 2: (Changing Places Toilets)

What is a Changing Places Toilet?

A Changing Places Toilet, (or also known as a “Hygiene Room”) is a special toilet for completing hygiene tasks for those disabled people who cannot use a regular disabled toilet. These toilets have hoists, a changing table, a perinuclear toilet and other specialist equipment for disabled people. You know, going back 20 years, when I was in my last year at school, we had a Disabled Toilet, but it was far from the standards we see today.

So, Changing Places Toilets are important in schools, as regardless of if you are a Primary School, Secondary School or Special School, having clean facilities is important, especially if you are helping someone with their toileting needs. We have 2 Changes Places Toilets. We have one in B Block and one in Sick Bay on the 3rd floor of J Block. We’re having a 3rd installed in D Block, replacing the Disabled Changing Room for a Changing Places Toilet.

So, we have followed the procedure from my last tutorial, so what do we still have to do? While high dusting, clean the track for the hoist and make sure the hoist moves and can go up and down correctly. Also, lower the hoist and make sure to properly disinfect the entire hoist arm and the hoist hooks. I also clean the part of the hoist that raises and lowers a pupil and is why I always need my steps, when cleaning a Changing Places Toilet.

Then there is the changing table, This isn’t too hard to clean. I spray all surfaces with anti-bac and then wipe clean. While I am there, I also check the paper roll for the changing table and restock the dispensers with gloves and aprons, as needed.

We have toilets in our Hygiene Rooms, which wash and dry a user, so we have to be really careful when cleaning, due to how the toilet works. I usually spray anti-bac onto a cloth and wipe thoroughly. While I am here, I always test the alarm, by yanking the red cord and then reset it. Also, I make sure the red cord has not been tied up or is out of reach.

We have Clinical Waste Bins in our Hygiene Rooms and so they need special disposal. (They cannot go in the normal bin) So I change the bag, spray and wipe the inside and outside of the bin and take the clinical waste bag to the clinical waste bins in J Block. (We have a refuse Room on J Block, as we have a rubbish chute for normal rubbish and clinical waste on each floor. The normal rubbish goes into a big commercial bin, while the clinical waste goes into it’s own separate bin.

Once the floor is washed, soap and paper checked and the sink, hand dryer and soap dispensers are disinfected, that’s job done! Don’t forget to put a wet floor sign up before you leave!

J Block Power has Been Restored!

Finally, the power issues in J Block have been fixed. The problem was a faulty cable, which was a little more complex than we thought. Unfortunately, we needed to switch off the supply to the 2nd floor, before the Electricians could replace the cable. This caused us some chaos, as Foxes and the Oaks and Acorns unit, as we had to shut the power off, so that a new cable could be fed from the 3rd floor Distribution Cabinet to the 2nd floor.

We sadly had to wait until after 10pm, to schedule a window to turn off the 2nd floor power. Thankfully, by 10, the kids were in bed and staff were able to work by torch light, while we replaced the cable. As you can see, the cable is damaged and is a fire risk and so, it had to be replaced ASAP.

Thankfully, the circuit breaker on the 2nd floor tripped, preventing power energising the damaged cable. The Electricians were able to drop a new piece of cable down the conduit and connect that to the 2nd floor distribution panel. So, I’ve just got home, after dealing with the work that needed doing and returning the battery lights back to my store room on the Lower Ground Floor. I am exhausted, Kyle is already in bed, so I think I shall join him. Goodnight all 🙂

By the way, I think my next Guide will be covering Electrical Safety and that will be posted over the weekend.

Partial Power Outage in J Block!

For some reason, the 3rd and 4th floor of J Block have completely lost power. This could be caused by a number of things and I am currently on site investigating the problem. The issue seems to be coming from a Distribution Cupboard on the 3rd floor, outside Sick Bay and seems to be connected with the feeder cable between the 2nd and 3rd floor. However, I cannot reset the breaker on the distribution board, meaning that there is a problem somewhere.

A quick diagram of the Electrical Distribution from the 2nd 3rd and 4th floor and from the rooftop Plant Rooms

I’ve got Electricians here trying to sort the problem out, however, I have had to take battery powered Halogen Work Lights up to Sick Bay, which is our School’s Medical Centre, Sick Bay runs 24\7 so we need to keep the lights on for staff to work. They are doing well up in Sick Bay, as most medical equipment runs on batteries and for the couple of kids up there who rely on Medical Oxygen, are using cylinders instead of the mains oxygen, which is connected pipework, that connects to a manifold and then several cylinders of oxygen. As the 4th floor contains offices, the loss of power will not be too much of a concern tonight.

Update: The Electricians have said the fault is caused by a damaged cable, which they are going to replace. However, they will need to work on a “live system”, as we cannot really switch off the entire supply to the 2nd floor. This means that the electricians will have to take extra care, while replacing the wiring in the cabinet, Hopefully, in 45 minutes, the power will be restored and I can go back home. I was in the bath, when I got the call and had to quickly dry off, get dressed and drive back to work, to deal with the incident.

Vindaloo anyone?

So after the epic England Match yesterday, some of the boys on the Oaks and Acorns Unit have decided to make their own version of Vindaloo, to support England in Euro 2021. That meant that this afternoon, I had to go back into work to get the camcorders from the AV Cupboard in the Main School. (They have since been locked in the filing cabinet in the Unit Office and our Young People were fully supervised while using the cameras.

So far, the kids have recorded parts of the music video in the corridors on J Block and D Block and dragged staff into the video, including myself and Sam. The kids managed to catch me walking down the stairs singing along and Sam singing and dancing with a mop. I am going to try and drag other staff into the video, including a few teachers and our Head Karen!

I know Karen is very into encouraging the Performing Arts side of things and she will definitely get involved with the video., I might also suggest that we do a video for 3 Lions, which is something we can get the whole school involved with. (Staff and Pupils)

I have posted the link to the music video below. (The song was originally released in 1998. This UK No. 2 hit single is probably the most popular England Football Anthem ever and was by the band “Fat Les”. The music video for the song is a parody of the video for “Bitter Sweet Symphony” by The Verve, which was itself inspired by the music video for “Unfinished Sympathy” by Massive Attack. The video features a drummer, Sumo Wrestlers, Hockey Players, loads of kids, a bloke with a piece of paper with the photo of David Walliams on it, a Vicar and a drunk woman, among many others.

Meanwhile, I am currently sat on the Children’s Assessment Unit at the Hospital with Josh. He may require an appendectomy and is currently on a drip of Paracetamol and fluids, while they decide if they need to operate or not. If he does, it will be likely that they will operate in the morning and of course, I will update the blog as soon as I can, regarding this. For now tho, I got some work I can do on my laptop, 🙂

Football Fever Grips School!

Yesterday. football fever sweeped school yesterday, as the kids watched the England vs Scotland Match in the Sports Hall. Last night. Sam had setup the projector in the Sports hall, so everyone could watch the England – Scotland match. (Socially distantly of course) As the Boarders were walking from their units to D Block, (which is where the Sports Hall is) they were singing the Lightning Seeds – 3 Lions really loudly. At the time, I was on the phone to a parent and had to ask them to hold the line for a moment. I then opened the office window and stuck my head out the window to see what was going on. It was such an atmosphere as staff and boarders walked across the car park, to the Sports Block, singing 3 Lions. (The Sports Block is D Block) The Sports Block has the Sports Hall on the ground floor, an observation balcony and the Fitness Room on the 1st floor, and the basement; houses the 25 metre Indoor Swimming Pool.

Even our kids got in on the action, singing along to 3 Lions (Especially Josh!)

Most of the windows in J Block have England Flags flying , as the kids show their support for our home nation. Many of the boarders were also wearing their England Shirts last night too. The kids have also been playing 3 Lions \ Vindaloo from their phones, on their CD Players in their rooms and on their tablets. It just proves how proud our kids are of their home nation, I know we have boarders from all faiths and backgrounds, but last night that didn’t matter… The boarders and staff united last night, to cheer on England, and I was proud to be a part of it!

In the Sport Hall, the atmosphere was electric, as staff and kids watched the match, with loud cheers throughout the match, Shame the match was a draw! After the match, the kids were certainly excited after the tense and match. Some ver very tired, but the others were still very hyper. On the way back to J Block, some of the kids were singing Fat Les – Vindaloo as they walked across the carpark. Tryin to get the kids to settle down for bed, was quite a tricky task; but we got there eventually! Yesterday had to be the most exciting late \ Sleep In Shift I have had for a while!

Microwave Fires Are No Joke

Microwaves can be brilliant for reheating food, but they can have a very affect, if a fire takes hold. This evening, Kyle had put a steamed pudding in the microwave and was mithered by Josh, as he was going on about going to a sleep over, we had already said he can’t attend. (Due to various reasons I can’t go into) So, Kyle put 30 mins, instead of 30 seconds on the microwave. Then he got distracted again, as he was paged for work. So, he didn’t know the food was burning.

It wasn’t until I took plates out to the kitchen, that I spotted smoke billowing from the microwave. So I went into emergency mode straight away, set off the fire alarm and then operated the kitchen emergency stop. I switched on the cooker hood and then opened the door and attacked the flames with a C02 Fire Extinguisher, while Jenny called the Fire Brigade. Thankfully, by the time they got to us, I had put the fire out.

So here is what you should do if your microwave catches fire:

  • First alert everyone else in the house, shout FIRE!
  • Make sure your kitchen door is shut, (if practical)
  • Cut the power, by switching off the microwave at the mains socket. If you cannot reach the mains socket, turn the power off at the fuse box. This will suffocate the fire.
  • If the fire is small and you can contain it, follow the below instructions. If not, get out the house and call 999.
  • If you have a cooker hood, switch it on full or open the window, to let the smoke out.
  • Carefully open the door, but do so standing at the side of microwave, so you do not get hit by the smoke.
  • Use a Fire Blanket or a C02 Fire Extinguisher to smother the fire.
  • Do not touch the microwave until it has fully cooled down.