Time to say goodbye

the last of her series on her time in a residential home, teenager Heidi
Osborne looks to the future.

glad to say that the unsettling summer of 1999 and the bad behaviour of some of
the boys who came to stay in our children’s home in those months, which I wrote
about last week, has been the exception rather than the rule.

Overall, the staff have been highly
successful in tailoring their approach to the various difficulties experienced
by all the young people who have passed through the front doors over the years.

With the new guidelines having been
implemented in April, the residential social workers’ approach can only improve
and become more beneficial for looked-after young people in the future. Having
been a long-term user of residential care I feel that young people need to be
made aware of their rights and responsibilities while under the local
authority’s care. This will increase their confidence and sense of security
while contributing towards the development of residential social workers’
desirable practices.

This brings me to the management of Dorset
social services. Where do I start? In my experience the current management lies
at the heart of the problems faced by residential social workers. It is an
understatement to say that they are out of touch. Their common sense has been
clouded with policies and the business of covering their own backs.

Within the home there is an ever-evolving
bureaucracy. Specifically, case recording now must be carried out every time a
young person makes a move, has a conversation, or steps outside the front door.

This policy restricts the amount of time
young people receive from staff as they are constantly locked in the office. I
feel that this new policy, coupled with the remaining red tape, is
disillusioning the staff and causing a major political uproar between them and
the hierarchy. In turn, this is affecting the quality of care. It is a nameless
and blameless service that is not willing to identify and take responsibility
for their mistakes. And here lies the problem.

The plan is for me to move on this September,
when I will be attending university in Winchester. On the whole I am glad to be
moving away from the craziness and superficiality of the children’s home that I
have become deeply accustomed to. Yet a part of me feels anxious about breaking
the cocoon that I am currently in and making the transition from one
institution to another.

I hope to sustain my relationship with two of
the residential social workers as they have been, and will continue to be, a
major inspiration to me. The building itself – and some of the past residents –
will hopefully become a dim and distant memory.

Heidi Osborne has been a resident of Maumbury
House children’s home in Dorchester since 1998. This is the last article in her

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