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.

Working Through The Storm

2635_aab658da17df7a22feaec0c8bf8bcc73
Still at work, sat in the Jets Houseparent’s Office. I am Houseparent on Jets part time. 

Storm Ciara has certainly caused severe disruption across the UK, as well as here at school.  We’ve been on emergency power since Saturday, which is supplied by the 2 emergency generators on the roof of J Block. (Keeping the lights, sockets, lifts and other systems online.)  The main School is also on emergency power and has it’s own generators. However, due to the weather, school is currently closed and will remain so. During this severe weather.  Sam has 2 of the 4 main school generators running, keeping the “life support systems”, such as the CCTV, Pacs System, Fire Alarm System, Fridges and Freezers  and the school network running.

In the meantime, the village is still a mess. We have power lines down, telephone lines down and roads blocked. Back home, we have a generator from the electricity board keeping the house powered, due to Toby and his disabilities and how he needs the hoists and the lift working.

Due to the roads blocked and the lack of power, many staff cannot get into work. So, we are using the Day Unit for staff to sleep, so staff who are able to stay on, can do so and rest. I’ve not been home since Friday, due to the weather and am on Sleep In, at present. The staff who have stayed on, have shown real dedication, along with the volunteers who have come in and helped us stay afloat, by cleaning, helping with catering etc. Also I must thank our Head Karen and our Deputy Head Judy, who are coming in to help with care, even though school is closed. I make sure to Facetime Sam every evening, so the kids at home, can have a natter with me and can see I am OK. I miss the kids,  but I know they know why I am still at school.

We have declared  “Major Incident” Status and Karen, Sam, Judy and I are meeting every morning and having a progress meeting.

We’ll soldier on through and hopefully next week, Storm Dennis will pass and school can get back to normal. We’ve had a couple of trees down in the school grounds and a couple of broken windows, but we’re managing!

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!

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!

The Kids Are Back!

The kids have returned after the summer break. On Friday, the Teachers had their INSET Day, (Teacher Training Day)  which happens before the autumn term starts. The first day of school is always very busy for Kyle and I. We have quite a few new Boarders starting, so there is plenty of paperwork for Kyle to complete. Boarders who were on Birds and Jets Units, have now moved to either Oaks, Acorns, Foxes or Squirrels Unit.

As for me, I have been on my usual workload as Site Manager, but I also gave a talk in this morning’s assembly, (which I do every year) about safety around the school, what to do if the fire alarms go off, (I use a CD I made that has the different fire alarm tones (Intermittent Warning Bells and Continuous Ringing of the fire bells –  Evacuation) as well as what to do if see a stranger etc)

To improve security around the site, the Reception Desk at the base of Junior House is now manned 24 \ 7 by Security Staff. They allow the kids through the interior security doors to the stairs \ lift and corridor to the ground floor units, as well as phoning the offices on the 4th floor, when there a visitors that need greeting, plus monitoring the CCTV and patrolling the grounds on a regular basis. Our security team are friendly and professional and like any other member of non teaching \ admin staff, wear blue school polo shirts and wear photographic ID, so that they can be recognised easily. There are always 3 security staff on duty at one time. 2 monitor the network of 50 cameras, which protect the school, (Inside and outside) with one security officer patrolling the exterior of the grounds once a hour. The other member of security is on Junior House Reception. Security report directly to me, if there is a problem and know how to page me, call my office and know my home and mobile contact numbers; if needed.

A hour and 5 mins till I knock off and there is so much still to do, so for now I will say tara and get on with some work!

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.