There are rocks ahead skipper, but we can make it!
Speaking to practitioners over the last few days has really highlighted the intensity of the times. It gives us insights into practice and what is going on in family homes. These homes usually have lots of people going in and out. This is particularly true for disabled children and their families. This whole situation shows the incredible strength, creativity and resilience of parents, carers and practitioners.
Self-Isolating with Children with Complex Needs
Some families of disabled children with complex needs are choosing to physically self-isolate. They have decided that they prefer to hole up and manage their family’s needs without risking outside contact. The determination of some to manage, and the creativity in how they are doing it, is so striking.
Some children find change hard and need routine to feel safe. Parents have found ways to manage anxieties by setting up careful routines to try to make days predictable. They’re also creating and maintaining strong routines:
- Areas of houses delineated as ‘school’. Sometimes it’s just a very small area, as many people do not have a lot of space.
- Areas for play and clear plans.
- Lots of play and exercise at home.
In addition to this, regular video meetings provide that space to share a short break and a cuppa with case workers who know them and their child, and who understand their needs. These lifelines of support are helping many families to manage.
A Network of Support
Case workers who are used to providing practical hands-on support must get used to doing things remotely, on a video call. This can be intense. They need to be able to provide rapid yet detailed explanations for anyone who does not know the individual child’s ways of responding to situations. They need to help calm tricky situations, to make things more manageable for everyone.
Case workers understand a child’s individual patterns of anxieties, and they understand that even small changes may disrupt their sense of safety. This can lead to an eruption of fear and tangled responses, all of which can make a bad situation worse. It’s vital to manage these situations with kindness, awareness, and gentle encouragement with firm groundings in safe landings.
The relationships between workers in short breaks and social care practitioners familiar with the case history is crucial. At the same time, families are demonstrating incredible strength and courage throughout this situation.
Giving Families the Support they Need
Some families are on the edge. Others are exhausted. Some may not be able to manage for a prolonged period. Others are coping with life-threatening conditions not connected to COVID 19. They need services to be there for them, to stay strong and be safeguarded through the financial challenges ahead. These services help us to keep children and families together. Families do the hard stuff, but everyone needs that back up.
In the world of multi-agency practice, linking services together to provide enough help is proving a challenge. But in some cases, greater flexibility, speedier responses and different ways of communicating are making things a bit smoother.
The hard stuff is the emotional support for families. It’s all too easy for the stress of family life to bubble over. Key workers and families are finding new ways to work together. So let’s thank these crucial key workers in social care, and let’s continue to support these families who are trying so hard to keep it altogether. Families are awesome! So are social workers and care workers!