I've just finished another shift where the deodorant can assault took place. One of the things I've observed here is that two of the girls, Rachel,17, and Sammie, 14, appear to be getting larger by the week. These girls are extremely over weight, unhealthily so. The younger behemoth is so fat that you can barely see her eyes as they are ensconsced behind a layer of chips and turkey twizzlers disguised as a face.
Now, how did Sammie and her lardy chum, Rachel, become morbidly rotund? It's simple, by eating whatever they want, which at the end of the day is provided for by the care home. They also get driven everywhere and refuse to walk anywhere that takes more than five minutes. It is easy to see on first glance, that in the area of physical health these two girls are simply not being cared for, unless being allowed to metamorphose in to Jabba the hut is a a new care therapy I'm not accustomed to.
One evening, I watched Sammie, who is about 5'5 and about 16 stone, and expanding by the day, eat a large fish and chips supper bought for her by staff. An hour later she was shouting and swearing that she wanted ice cream. In order to placate the child and so have an easier shift, the duty manager drove her to a shop where Sammie was bought a ten box of Magnum ice creams or something identical. I watched in horror and disgust as she was allowed to eat one after the other. It kept the little elephant quiet though, which meant she wouldnt be abusing staff or in the office ripping up files, as she does, which leads me to believe that the purpose of the Magnums suited the staff's needs rather than the child's. However, worse neglect was to come.
An hour or two after Sammie had gorged herself on a week's recommended intake of saturated fat in one sitting, she went outside to have a smoke. A few seconds later she was joined in the yard with the shift leader and another member of staff, as well as Rachel, who had torn herself away from channel hopping and gorging for a well deserved nicotine break. I was so appaled and shocked at what I was seeing that I later confronted the shift leader.
"Lucy, I'm a bit shocked that you openly allow a 14 year old girl to smoke on the grounds of the home and smoke with her. Another thing that confuses me is that despite their serious weight problems both Sammie and Rachel are allowed to eat what they want. Do you not try to control what they eat? Give them choice, of course, but limit it to healthy food with the occasional indulgence," I comment.
"Well Winston, we can only encourage the girls to eat healthily, but they have the right to choose their own meals we can't dictate what they eat. With the smoking issue, if we were to try to stop Sammie from smoking she would simply go somewhere else and do it so we would rather she did it here in a controlled environment where we know she is safe," stated Lucy, obviously believing her own waffle.
Why cant they dictate to them that they cant have the right to eat themselves in to an unhealthy state? They are children. How is it a 'controlled environment' and 'safe', if you don't try to control their actions to keep them safe? I wonder if Sammie or Rachel were to want to smoke a crack pipe in the house or have under-age illegal sex would this too be tolerated on the grounds that at least they are doing it in the house. It baffles me that some people view allowing a child to be self destructive as a from of 'care', without even trying to enforce any boundaries.
Anway back to today's shift. Just before I left, I asked Spencer, one of the full time support workers, how was it that the girl's social workers didn't question the unhealthy state of the two girls. After all, social services regularly visit the home to see the girls.
"It's simple Winston, what happens is that the management here re-write the girls weekly care logs to make it appear that they are eating healthily. This company get a lot of money to keep these kids and they make sure that everything looks as it should on paper."
It costs about 2,500 quid a week to keep a child in care. I got the information here about half way down the page in italics. Click the link
"Then Spencer, the social workers must be choosing to turn a blind eye because there is no way that any one could believe that those two delinquent hippos are being nourished on mung beans and spinach."
Anyway, even within the company that house Rachel and Sammie there are some good homes, not many though, with effective managers and staff that really care and give the children consistent and fair boundaries. It is my view that it is difficult for good care homes to flourish within the care system, in that, it leans towards allowing the child to dictate the agenda. There has been a profound and disproportionate shift in power away from adult forms of authority to "empowerment", the sector buzz word for allowing youngsers do and behave as they wish. The fruits of this philosophy are also to be seen in the schools and on the streets of the country and affect all classes and backgrounds to some degree.