Caravan Break.

As soon as our Supervising Social Worker left us on Tuesday, Peter and I packed the car to travel to visit the static caravan of a close friend on a local site. She had insisted that we have an overnight stay there (alone) to have a break from our increased caring responsibilities. Since March 13th we have had sole daily care responsibility for Peter’s mum who is very frail and who we chose not to be visited by her twice daily carers.

Our Birth daughter (28) had agreed  to stay over with Michael and his older siblings . We have delegated responsibility which states that we can decide whether he can go on sleepovers with people that we deem suitable and our Supervising Social worker (SSW) deemed this to be appropriate. We know that the “house rules” will be stretched …. TV dinner, extra treats and staying up super late binge watching Netflix will be the order of the day – and accept that is just as it should be.

We had a lovely time at the caravan. We visited the local pub and had “socially distanced” drinks – followed by a great night’s sleep. We cooked breakfast and had just sat down to enjoy our little treat ( around 10am ) when the What’s App call came in. Our SSW explained that she had called to do our *“virtual unannounced visit,” we both laughed and asked if she had forgotten that we were not at home. Her response was that she thought, because it was raining that we wouldn’t be at home. She hastily said goodbye and said she hoped we enjoyed the rest of the day.

Peter and I later agreed that she had clearly forgotten and we would really have appreciated a sincere comment of “I messed up, I forgot, sorry!” much more.

Sadly the interruption completely changed the course of the breakfast conversation – it threw us a reminder that our Annual Review is next month – we chatted about whether the Local Authority would complete a report / appraisal of our work / progress this year. It is rare that they send these and if they do, the pressure of their work usually means that deadlines are not met. For the last two reviews they have actually arrived on the day and we have needed to read comments immediately before the review commenced.

It’s been a hard couple of years and we’ve been unable to take respite – because of circumstances beyond anyone’s control. Now even this lovely break (less than 24 hours and only the 4th night away alone in over 18 months ) felt as though it had been hijacked . The reality of being a foster carer is that you seem to be  ALWAYS available.

* Routine statutory unannounced visits take place at least twice a year to each fostering household.  Usually an unannounced visit would comprise of a Social Worker who may or may not be known but would always show ID and leave clear contact details. The main purpose of the unannounced visit will be to look at the home environment that a foster child is living in.

Pre-covid the Social Worker would arrive at your front door with the intention of looking in every room of your house to ensure that you were fully compliant with the health and safety requirements of a fostering household and in the words of one of our Supervising Social Workers “ …. Not hiding any guests under the bed !” In these strange times the actual visit has been replaced by a virtual version where a device is carried around the home to enable the Social worker to fulfil their statutory duty.

Jayne Robbins – A Foster Carers Blog.

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