Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada


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Social Worker: Residential Care

…“Unable to control my granddaughter’s outbursts, when the time came for me to consider registering her in residential care, I was very nervous as I thought it was tantamount to sending the child to prison. But after speaking with the staff and attending orientation sessions I felt reassured and soon realized the resident was family oriented and the staff very supportive. To offer support to other caregivers who are considering residential care, I asked Juliette Corby, a social worker at Lynwood/Charlton Residential Unit to give parents/caregivers advice around placing a child in residence.”…

Here is Juliette’s post:

Considering Residential Treatment

For families with children having complex mental health and behavioural concerns, the journey that leads to residential treatment is often a long and difficult one. Parents frequently feel that residential treatment is their last hope as less intrusive treatment options have all been exhausted.

The idea of residential treatment for children is often overwhelming to parents. When considering this route parents may find themselves weighing the benefits and risks, potential outcomes, the intensity of programming and commitment required, as well as impact on the whole family. Fear due to stories heard and feelings of guilt as though they are abandoning their children or giving up on them are not uncommon for parents as they weed through the pros, cons and preconceptions of residential treatment.

Many parents have found it helpful to consider this as being a positive step that the family can take together. If you are a parent or guardian who has arrived at the doorstep of a residential treatment centre take the time to look around, ask questions, and consider how the program may suit your family and child.

Juliette Corby, Social Worker
Residential Program
Lynwood Charlton Centre, Hamilton, ON

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My Cat

 

Zi6_0324It’s January 5th, 2013, and my beautiful Princess died today. She was eighteen years old and had been struggling with health issues for over a year, but yesterday she began passing blood with her urine and was having difficulty breathing so I knew it was time for her to go. I arranged for Animal Services to pick her up in the afternoon and today she will be put down. It was heartbreaking to see her go as she has been with me through thick and thin and was a constant source of comfort.

I originally brought her from the SPCA when she was a kitten. My eldest son had been bugging me for a cat and, being a cat-lover myself, I found it hard to say no and so my three kids and I took a trip downtown to the shelter and, out of all the kittens there, they chose Princess. As you can see from her picture, she was a very pretty cat, but also very stubborn as cats often are, and very independent as cats often are, but very friendly, and she enjoyed being one of the family.

My strong attachment to her stems from the fact that, as we purchased her just one year before my teenage daughter became pregnant with my first grandchild, she has been in the home throughout my years of raising my mentally disabled grandchildren.

She was there when my daughter ran away from home and refused to return. She was there when my daughter returned home due to her pregnancy. She was there when I returned home after coaching my daughter through her first delivery. She was there when each of my baby grandchildren were brought to my home to live with me. She was there whenever I returned from the family courthouse during my stressful years of seeking custody of my grandchildren. She was there as I changed numerous diapers and bottle fed babies, and struggled financially and emotionally each month trying to make ends meet and to find services to help me with my grandchildren’s disabilities. She was there when the children started kindergarten through to when the three eldest celebrated becoming teenagers. She was there when I broke down after returning from the police station where my fourteen year old grandson was charged with criminal activity. She was there as I sadly packed up his possessions and saw him taken from our home and placed in foster care. She was there to watch me age and to age with me. She was there whenever I cried when feeling overwhelmed with responsibility and would climb on my lap to console me.

Only other pet lovers will know how I’m feeling today. I know I won’t always feel this way, but today is a very sad day, full of tears over the passing of my beloved Princess. I haven’t told my grandchildren yet. Instead, when they came home from school yesterday, I told them she had to go to hospital and that we would know the outcome by the end of the week. That way I have a few days to shed tears and grieve until I feel stronger and more able to be there for them when I tell them she is gone and they shed their tears.

Dear Princess, I love you so much and will miss seeing your sweet face every morning. Sleep tight – Mom.

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Lynwood Charlton Centre, Hamilton, Ontario

What is Residential Care?

Residential Care as a whole can be many things, in many different countries, but in general refers to long or short-term care for adults or children with disabilities, mental health problems, or learning difficulties. Some of the programmes offered for children with mental health problems are: Anger management Assessments; Behaviour Management; Crisis Intervention; Day Treatment; Family Counselling; Group Therapy; Individual Therapy; Life Skills; Training Outreach; Parent Support and Training; Problem-solving Skills; Referral Services; Residential Care Service Coordination; and Social Skills Groups.

For families residing in the Hamilton, Ontario, area INFORM HAMILTON at http://www.informhamilton.ca describes Lynwood Charlton Centre as….. a children’s mental health centre. It offers services to emotionally and behaviourally disturbed male and female children between 0 and 18 years of age, and their families, who reside in the greater Hamilton area. Services include residential and non-residential components as described below:

  • Day Treatment School Program: Emphasis is placed on reintegration of children to their community school settings. Children may be served in either the on-site classrooms or through the outreach team working with children in their home schools. Access to the program is through a Board of Education referral.
  • Flamborough Residential Program: 831 Collison Rd, Flamborough, L9H 5E2
    Phone: 905-627-8475; Fax: 905-627-8482 10 bed residential program for male youths aged 12 – 18 in the care of the Child Welfare Societies of Hamilton. The program is staffed by child and youth workers, a part-time social worker and a consulting psychiatrist.
  • Intensive Child and Family Services Program: A home-based service that is provided to children, 0 to 18 years of age, with emotional and behavioural difficulties and their families in their own homes, communities and schools. The program is staffed by trained child and youth workers and a consulting psychiatrist.
  • Residential Program: A structured live-in treatment milieu for 16 children aged 6-13. The program is staffed by trained child and youth workers, social workers and a consulting psychiatrist.
  • Treatment-Foster Care Program: A service available to children in the care of the Brant CAS and Hamilton CCAS who would benefit from a placement in a treatment foster home. The service is staffed by foster parents supported by child and youth workers, social workers and a consulting psychiatrist.

My youngest granddaughter, at the time of my writing, is ten years of age and currently registered at Lynwood Charlton in Hamilton, Ontario. Her extreme behavior problems caused in part by ADHD, FAS, and an identified communication disorder, had become so out of control that I was advised by a Lynwood Charlton caseworker to call CONTACT HAMILTON and request she be placed on the waiting list for residential care.

For six months prior to my call, I had worked with a caseworker from Intensive Child & Family Services, attached to Lynwood Charlton Centre, who conducted home visits to observe the family situation and offer advise on how to offset critical situations regarding my granddaughter’s outbursts. These home visits typically span one per week for three to six months depending on the severity of the child’s behaviour. When it was ascertained that her behaviour could not be controlled by reasonable methods, and that a more intense programme was required, I was advised to request registration for my granddaughter into Lynwood Charlton Residential Care.

Approximately four months later, after being interviewed by a Social Worker from Lynwood, I was advised my granddaughter would be accepted into the program and begin a Behavior Management Plan. As of now, she attends five days a week: Monday through Friday, and comes home Friday afternoon. Weekends are tense to say the least as I am not sure when she is going to have an outburst and how uncontrollable she will become. I am writing this post on a Saturday after experiencing one of her screaming tantrums which began over something extremely minor and escalated until I felt unsafe in her presence. Although I am encouraged to call Lynwood when her behavior begins, there is not much I can do except wait it out.

Although her behaviour is trying, I am optimistic that upon completion of the programme, my granddaughter’s behaviour will be more controlled and controllable. The program works in three phrases: three months full-time when she attends Lynwood from Monday thru Friday, three months part-time when she will attend only three days a week, and finally, three months when she is in residence only two days per week. During these nine months she will become involved in various programs designed for her specific behavior, while I, as the parent, will participate in parenting and family programs to aid in my understanding of her outbursts and how to control them. I am finding there is a lot of communication between myself and the primary and social workers who are overseeing my grandaughter’s case. I am kept well-informed of what is happening between her and the staff, the programs she is enrolled in, the outings she enjoys, and her behaviour during all of these. The staff’s emphasis is on returning her home with the ability to control her emotions in a more positive way and with a less disruptive attitude.

If you would like information regarding the Lynwood Charlton Centre please call 905-389-1361, or visit their site at www.lynwoodcharlton.ca

If you live for any particular length of time with a challenging child it’s easy to become acclimatized by their behavior and not realize the seriousness associated with the disability. So,  if you feel “worn out” or threatened by a challenged child, don’t hesitate to call Lynwood or Contact Hamilton for Children’s and Development Services at 905-570-8888 or email: info@contacthamilton.ca, 

UPDATE:

My youngest mentally disabled grandson began a nine-month program at Lynwood Charlton residential care centre yesterday where, for the first three months, he will live full-time Monday through Friday, coming home for the weekends. After filling out application forms, having intake interviews, and attending appropriate meetings, the day finally arrived to pack up his things and cart them over to the centre.

My youngest granddaughter is still registered there and half-way through the program, but saying goodbye to my grandson and leaving him was a completely different experience for me than when I cheerfully waved goodbye to my granddaughter who was slowly killing me with years of continuous raging outbursts and screaming fits. Although she is now at the centre only two days per week, during her enrollment she has been receiving behaviour modification strategies, while I bask in the much-needed break from her anger and controlling behaviour.

Despite saying a thousand “I love you’s” to my grandson, I felt tears pricking my eyes as I looked at his sad little face and turned to leave. He looked so small and vulnerable as he whispered, “Well, if you love me that much, why are you leaving me here?” It was like the first day of kindergarten all over again!

My consolation is that the program will benefit him greatly, especially in the areas of anxiety and aggression. Right now he is barely able to communicate with adults. Whenever an adult comes to the house or speaks to him, he curls up in a ball and pulls his hood over his face and draws the strings so tight all you can see is his nose sticking out the tiny hole. I have often encouraged him to wear clothing without hoods, but trying to pry his favourite hoodie from his clutches (at least let me wash it!) causes severe anxiety; I guess it’s like a security blanket to him.

I left him there at two in the afternoon and by eight thirty was on the phone calling the staff to see how he was, so when my call went to voicemail, I instantly entered panic mode wondering if he had run away and the reason the phone went unanswered was because all the staff were scouring the surroundings trying to hunt him down! I imagined him lost and hungry, and crying for me as he pulled his hoodie over his face and called my name in despair!

Of course, that wasn’t the case at all, I had just called at a busy time, and when a staff member returned my call she let me know he had had a very good evening and was settling in nicely. Phew!