Rooftop Emergency: Pupil Threatens to Jump!

Update: The Year 9 Pupil is now back at school and read me a special letter (he had written while in Hospital) at Friday afternoon assembly. I got a massive round of applause and I got a big hug off the lad too!

I was told that “I went above and beyond to help a Pupil in crisis” and in his hour of need, I listened to him, I supported him all the way through it, and I showed him that I care, not because I am paid to, but because I want to care and that I care about each and every Pupil, no matter if they are naughty or nice, if they give me verbal abuse or put pins on my chair. Finally as stated by our Head Teacher, I have a heart of gold and that shines a beacon of light, which gives comfort to our pupils. They know they are not alone and what ever they are going through, they don’t have to go through it alone. Staff are always there to listen, to help pupils work through what ever it is that is bothering them and find a solution to that problem. Our school motto is “if you can’t help yourself, there will always someone will always help you”, which is very true.

The School, the staff and pupils are very lucky to have someone like me and I in turn, am very lucky to work at such a wonderful school, full of kids who are special, not because they have special needs, but because they are very special kids.

 

I have just managed to get home, I am very tired and honestly, rather disappointed. Right, lemme go to the beginning and explain what happened…

One of the pupils in my school, suffered a “Psychotic Episode”. (psychosis is where one hears, sees or feels things or have thoughts that someone is going to harm them.) This Year 9 Pupil, (who I cannot name for legal reasons) climbed onto the roof of the Gym in D Block. I was first alerted by someone in the office, who spotted someone on the roof of the Gym. Of course I followed emergency procedures and used my radio to put out an urgent message to the office. I used my mobile in the meantime, to phone the Fire Brigade. Sam was able to get me up onto the flat roof of C Block, (via a access door in B Block) which is not as high as D Block, so I could speak to him and try to defuse the situation. By now, me on the rooftop drama had got half the school’s attention and unfortunately, we ended up with a crowd on the playground, even though they were told to  stay back.

To cut a long story short, through me talking to the pupil in question and talk him down. I told the Police that I know the lad better than anyone and I knew I could get him to come down with a little time and patience.  It took 2 and a half hours to talk him down. With assistance from Durham Fire and Rescue, we got the lad down off the roof and into an ambulance. I went with him to the Hospital, where we sat for a staggering 10 hours! I am sorry, but for someone in crisis, that is far too long to be sat in A&E and the waiting room was not the best or appropriate place to spend half the time,  as he was very anxious. Finally, Mental Health Liaison came to see us and he is now in the care of  the Hospital.

More money needs to be invested in Mental Health services. I know A&E is busy, I get there are lots of very sick people in the department, but Mental Health crisis should not be pushed down the queue. People who are poorly because of mental health, should not have to wait more than 2 hours to see a Mental Health Professional in A&E. Tomorrow, I am going to write to my MP, because the stigma with mental health needs to stop and better care needs to be out there and not just a “postcode lottery”.

I went above and beyond for a pupil and I didn’t need to do so. I reached out to someone who was  in a crisis. In this job, you have to wear many hats. I’m not just the Head of Care, I am a friend the kids can always come to when they are feeling down. The kids know my office door is always open for a private chat and if I am not at work, they know they can turn to any member of staff for help. If needed, I can always be called and I will come into work to help a young person, regardless if it’s 3:30pm on a Sunday afternoon or 3:30 am on a Wednesday morning.

The kids know they can talk to me and they know if they want one, a hug is always something I am willing to give. From kids who are homesick and miss mum and dad, to kids who feel they are struggling to cope, I am here to listen and I will not judge them or tell them what to do. I will always explore ways to resolve the problem and they know that they can confide in me. They also know when I have a “legal duty” to speak to break confidentiality, if they or someone else may be in danger. However, I always make sure that I explain why I have to break confidentiality and will always continue to support them through this process.

Today was incident to reflect on and made me think that as a school, we need to be more eagle eyed to spot when things are getting out of hand and to to intervene. I am not blaming anyone at school, but we need to work harder to prevent something like this happening again.

I was always taught by my mum to “not dwell on the what if’s) and this is the same when you think about today. If we had of got this pupil in to see the School Doctor, before a roof top drama started, the outcome would of been the same. The same outcome regardless, would of been a trip to A&E, as we cannot keep a young person safe from himself or keep other people in school safe. A&E was the appropriate place for him to receive help and when he comes out of hospital, he will be welcomed back to school, with no bad feelings and he will not be told off. It is not the way things are done at our school!

I have been told he will get after care and he will get plenty of help in school as well. All his friends and the staff just want the best for him and I think that he is very lucky to have so many people who care about him.

Right, time for bed, I am back at work tomorrow! G’nite 🙂

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 🙂

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.

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!