Lost In Care

Over 12 years working in residential children's homes. 5 years training foster carers and care staff. Trainee child psychotherapist. 14 years in care as a child. Diary, anecdotes and rants about the good, bad and mediocre. Anonymised but all true.

Category: Needs

Why would a 14-year-old girl swallow a battery?

Firstly, before I become all “left-brained” about this, imagine actually doing it.  Close your eyes if you need to.  Imagine the feel of an AA battery in your hand – the size, the weight.  Notice how solid it is.  Now imagine resting it between your lips – the feel of cold metal.  Picture yourself pushing the AA battery, with the tip of your finger, all the way into your mouth and towards the back of your tongue.  Now imagine swallowing.  Go on – really imagine it.

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I can’t keep the children I work with safe (further thoughts)…

I recently wrote a piece for Community Care about the difficulties involved in keeping some looked after children safe and what I think needs to be done to address this.  If you haven’t already, you can read it here.  It received a much bigger response than anything else I have ever written – most of it positive or, at least, engaged with the issue, and some of it critical.

However, while it is of course flattering when people say nice things or agree with me on Twitter (I have an ego), I did not write it for these reasons.  Nor did I write it as clickbait for Community Care.   I wrote it because I am very worried about the issue and feel passionately about it.  It is for this reason I am pleased it got a bit of attention.

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An Insecure Base

I said goodbye to Scarlett yesterday – tomorrow she moves to her fifth placement in the 18 months she has been “looked-after”.   She has been with us since Christmas Eve.  I will discuss why in a moment, but first:

What a cold, clinical and straight-out horrible word, it has just occurred to me, “placement” is.  There is a reason we use words like this as professionals – it’s a defence.  It protects us from having to confront the full reality of what is happening.  “Placement” doesn’t have quite the same emotional resonance as “home” does it?

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What is a therapeutic carer?

It is probably worth saying that I write this from the perspective of my background in residential children’s homes.  My knowledge of the experiences of foster carers and adopters is limited to some work as a freelance trainer for a few IFA’s.   That said, it is pretty obvious that many of the issues faced are the same.  And many of the attributes, skills and so on required for these roles will be similar.  It is definitely true that many of the  people I have met during my time in residential care and as a trainer did not have enough of these skills and attributes to undertake their roles successfully.

You will not find many children’s homes nowadays that do not market themselves as “therapeutic” (and presumably, by extension, this means the staff are therapeutically trained, right?).  Likewise, I notice the terms “therapeutic foster carer” and “therapeutic parent” are becoming common.

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Attachment, permanence and endings…

The other day the deputy manager of the home I work in left. He had been recruited externally and was only around for a few months. He made the decision to leave and for various reasons he wasn’t up to the task. Mainly, I would suggest, because the fairly rigorous nature of our psychoanalytic model can be exposing and superficial strategies for manipulating how people view you are ineffective.

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Daddy’s Little Girl and the Oedipus Complex…

OK…I want this blog to be as accessible and free from jargon and theory as reasonably possible.  However, I  do not want to sanitise it or patronise readers.  So, before I say what I planned to talk about, I am going to briefly explain the Oedipus Complex:

I guess most people will have heard of it and most will know it is something to do with Freud.  Some may have an idea that it is something to do with young boys wanting to have sex with their mum.  (Some of you will know exactly what the Oedipus Complex is and may well understand it better than me.  This section isn’t for you – feel free to scroll down.)

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