Sunday, May 31, 2020

SIDE BENEFITS OF FOSTERING

How's lockdown?

Are you having the 'Ups and Downs'?

I'm guessing we've all had a few things that scored a minus on our chart, plus a few plusses? It's how we deal with them that's everything.

The day before yesterday a friend of mine asked me to meet her in the park and sit at opposite ends of a bench. She told me that on a scale of 10 her anxiety was 11. She hadn't slept for 2 nights on the trot which was only making her state of mind worse. The next morning she texted me that her doctor had advised her to take 2 of the anti-depressants she'd ben prescribed and not to drink or eat after 5pm, and she slept for 12 hours. She finished by writing "I feel great. I literally can't remember what I was so anxious about!"

I remember.

She'd was worried sick about her parents who live too far away for her to have a day visit. Her dad is 90 and her mum - who has dementia - is 89. She's racked her brains how to get to see them; she could sleep in their front garden, but how could she go to the loo? A local B+B? All closed. A nearby holiday home? All shut. Sleep in the car? Same loo problem…

One day she couldn't be more miserable, next day euphoric.

Yesterday morning I took the dog round the block and met an elderly neighbour who is locked down with an even older husband who is becoming eccentric. She said that he'd bought a new computer on the internet which he set up during the night so when she came down it was all up and running and the old one - the one she knew how to use - had gone. So had her mobile phone, he'd chucked that too, all that was left of it was her sim card. It was clear the old man was mentally declining and for some unknown reason trying to make complete his wife's isolation.

I asked her where she'd been and she said she'd made a 5 minute trip to the newsagent to buy his Times last 45 minutes to be out of the house for as long as she dared. I gave her my email address and said she could email me if ever she needed to.

Then yesterday afternoon I had a Whats App chat with an old friend, someone I used to work with but had lost touch, I hadn't spoken to him for 20 years. He's a youthful 62 but he's been told he only has about eight months to live. He looked well and was cheerfully philosophical about his lot. We agreed to talk every week.

I've found that fostering has made subtle changes to who I am, and as far as I can tell they are all changes for the better. Many of the skills you need in fostering are skills we already have but haven't had polished.

This is where my Blue Sky social worker comes in. Since the lockdown came in she's been unable to visit, so instead she phones me at least once, sometimes twice a week.It's not a quick fine-minute call; we chat for about an hour-and-a-half. She's checking we're all okay, but she dresses her care up as a friendly catch-up. For example she asks about our foster children as a friend would, and if I have to say that one of them was out of line she'll ask how I dealt with it and when I tell her she feeds back. I get to understand my own behaviour and what works well for people who need kindness.

What I'm saying here is that foster children and their families have much to thank agencies like Blue Sky for. Some of them know it, some don't.

But almost everyone I know has reason to thank fostering and Bue Sky for how I am these days, and none of them have a clue and never will.










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