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A&E Nurse to Foster Carer

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Karen's Story

When did you begin fostering? What was your previous job?

I began fostering in 2005 with Nexus after being an A&E Nurse for nearly 30 years. I had previously adopted my son after caring for him since he was six weeks old, and he is now eight years old. We both love fostering, and my adopted son loves it when we foster babies, as he loves to help care for them. I have two daughters and a son, along with three grandchildren. My two daughters are my backup support for fostering as I am a single carer. My daughters are my lifeline. Otherwise, I may find it difficult sometimes. I did foster elsewhere beforehand but felt they needed to know more about us and the foster children we had. I always wanted to continue helping children, so I made the career change to becoming a foster carer.

What support do you receive?

My Social worker was terrific and supported me when I needed her. She understands fostering life and what is involved. I had a good experience with my social workers, which is essential to me. I also love the support groups Nexus puts on for their carers and find them beneficial. You learn a lot from the support groups. You can see what other people are going through, and you are not alone. You pick up tips on how people are doing things, these are invalid, and I learn a lot from them. It is nice to talk to other people to know you are doing a good job. You notice that other people may be experiencing the same as you. I am a single carer and attend the single carers support group. You meet people across the offices – again, I think they are such a valued thing to do and would encourage people to go to them. Nexus does say they are 24/7 support, and they are. You can pick up the phone whenever as there is always someone at the end of the phone. Nexus knows which carer has which child, which is excellent as you speak to someone who knows your child.

Which type of fostering you have done?

I have had siblings and teenagers and fostered babies. I enjoy all types of fostering, but my son and I love the parent and child placements. I have the time to do this where fostering is my full-time job. I had four parent and child placements, some of them were skilled, and others were supported. I made sure I was there for them and helped them as much as I could. My son loves having foster babies in the home and gets on well with them. I need to make sure he is included and happy.

What do you find the hardest about fostering?

When I receive a referral, I get excited and find it hard if it doesn't go ahead. My son also gets excited when he thinks a placement is coming, but it is hard for us when the placement doesn't come and they are matched with someone else. So I keep the referrals close to my chest to avoid disappointment for my son. You might have a few referrals before you are matched with a child, and I understand sometimes you are waiting to hear from the child's social worker, and not knowing whether the child is coming is hard for us. However, I try not to get our hopes up but remain positive, and we are happy when the time comes.

My son loves having foster babies in the home and gets on well with them. I need to make sure he is included and happy.

Do you struggled when the children leave?

Two of our parent and child placements, the children went on to be adopted, and two stayed with the mother. You have to stay impartial and remain positive while working towards the best outcome for the children. I remember a positive result when a child went home with their dad, which was great and really positive. I have struggled to let go sometimes as I had two young children for 2.5 years, so I found it hard to let go when they were going home for the parent. Some children are very reliant on the carer, especially depending on their age, so you get attached to the children sometimes. I always think on the basis of however long they are with me I have given them enough to know what is right and wrong. Even if it is for a short time, I have given them the love and care they need, and I hope they remember this.

How do you look after wellbeing while fostering?

I am a strong person, but there have been times when I have worried and needed time out for five minutes to gather my thoughts. I enjoy doing craft work and take time to do this when I can. My daughters are great for support if I need to go anywhere, so I get some time for myself. I took respite once when I had a holiday planned before I had a child with me, but I would usually take the children on holiday with me as they are a part of the family when living with me. So it is lovely to be able to go away with the children. 

Any advice you would give to foster carers?

Yes, foster carers should always speak to their social worker and talk about what they are feeling. Do not sit on it and overthink what is happening and be open about whether you are struggling or need support. They are there to support you, whether over the phone or face-to-face. As a new carer, always pick up the phone. No one is a failure. Sometimes talking to someone helps and reassures you are doing a great job. We foster carers are the mould that holds it all together and supports one another. If you decide to foster as your primary role and source of income, ensure you are financially stable to make this work for you. Everyone's circumstance is different. People can chat about this with you and ensure it works for you. Finally, make sure you are praising the children for even the smallest things – making sure they are being praised is excellent for their self-esteem and helps them build positive bonds with the foster carers.



Fostering stories


  • Advice
  • Parent and Child
  • Young person

Date published

24 February 2023

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