What challenges have you faced during lockdown, and how have you overcome them?
We really missed the support from our extended family- having days out with our young people and family members as that takes the pressure of the fostering day to day role. I think it was worse because we had no respite for the year, and the youngest person is very needy. The older young people were also home. All three need routine, they completely lost everything familiar to them and so have all been very anxious, causing different behaviour issues. We also found it hard worrying about the mental health of everyone else and it was difficult trying to deal with our own, being so closely together in the home. Luckily, we foster together, we established a good routine which the boys managed and it helped them. X likes puzzles and did lots during lockdown. He found this relaxing. I had walks by myself which gave me some space. Having two younger grandchildren just both two when lockdown hit, I personally struggled not being able to cuddle them and be a bigger part in them as they were growing.
Not seeing foster carers and children face to face has been hard. It has been very isolating. New children have been placed that I have only been able to see on a video link. I have also had to learn to use technology I had not used before.
Not being able to have dialogue, banter, sharing and support directly with my colleagues has been very hard. I know we have all had difficult times and not being able to pick up on these unless someone actually tells you, as you can’t see them to read their body language feels very impersonal.
The tough times have been really tough!
I missed my clubs that I usually go to and my friend.
Whilst working from home has allowed me space to focus on certain aspects of it, there are days where I have felt isolated from the team. Luckily, we are a close-knit team and we communicate with each other regularly.
The biggest challenge was juggling home-schooling and the demands of my role. I am lucky that I am able to work flexibly to accommodate this and adjust my working hours to suit.
During lockdown we have always been connected through weekly workflow meetings and other check-up points which was helpful, although at times I felt to be working in isolation.
Personally, I found it really difficult to work at home, doing a very demanding job and simultaneously having to attend to the needs of my young children. This had a significant impact on my mental health.
Not having a clean cut from home / work meant that boundaries got blurred in terms of me feeling the need to be available at most times, which impacted on my family life and overall well being.
Working remotely – we have overcome this by good and creative use of technology and a commitment to ensuring that we all communicate regularly as a team.
Have you felt supported during lockdown? Where did that support come from (agency, friends, family) ?
I felt the agency supported us the best they could. I know they were at the end of the phone if we needed it. The support we needed was regular respite but we understand why this wasn’t possible. We spoke to family members on social networking but that wasn’t the same as face to face with touch.
The team has been great as always. There have been challenges but we have worked through them all.
My Mum and grumpy Dad.
As much as I could have been. I would be lying if I said that every day has been a good day; I have had my fair share of horrible ones. My network of friends and family have helped me through some darker times, and the support from the agency has been second to none.
My main support came from work colleagues who have been available to provide me some of their time for a friendly chat. The agency has sourced support via clinical supervision but my experience was that this was becoming extremely focused on caseload as opposed to focusing on how lockdown was impacting on me as an individual.
Yes – agency, colleagues, friends, family, professional networks such as NAFP and Fostering Network.
How could the agency have helped you feel more supported during lockdown?
I don’t think they could have. They arranged what they could safely, and we think they did a great job.
I can’t think of any additional support. As I am clinically vulnerable, I have spent more time working from home than most and everyone has been very supportive.
I don’t think they could have done anything else. In fact, they have gone above and beyond what could be expected. I feel so blessed to be part of this fostering community.
There wasn’t anything the agency could do.
I don’t think there is anything else the agency could have done to make me feel more supported. It has been an incredibly difficult time globally and I think the agency did whatever was in their ability to support staff and ensure service delivery continued to be excellent.