Looking after emotional health
If your grandchildren have been through a lot of trauma they will possibly have feelings and questions they want to talk with you about. Encourage them to talk and let them have their feelings as much as you are able. Answer their questions truthfully but don’t overload them with answers.
There may be times when you hear things that you wish you hadn’t. There will undoubtedly be times when you will have feelings that overwhelm you just as they do the children. These are normal grief reactions in a difficult situation and they need professional help.
Where do I go for counselling services?
Counselling, information, referral and family services are available through various non-government agencies:
Charitable organisations can also provide some of these services and can be found in most regions of NSW:
Family Relationship Centres tel 1800 050 321 specialise in mediation and dispute settlement within families. They provide three free counselling sessions and can offer telephone information, advice and referral.
The Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA) 02 9281 8822 can direct you for counselling and assistance for your grandchildren if you are having difficulty finding the right service.
Looking after physical health
We all know, though we don’t like to admit, that we are getting older. As such we need more time to rest and time to put into ourselves. Much of this is difficult when you have children around 24 hours a day.
Looking after you
Studies show that stress can have a major impact on your physical health. If you have had health problems in the past they could recur.
– Make an appointment with your local GP and let her/him know your situation and follow any advice you receive.
– Get some regular exercise – walking is really beneficial – as is getting out in nature.
– Take time out for yourself – quiet time that is yours each day. Children can learn that you need times like this and they can be occupied doing something quietly as well. Listening to music, doing something creative or just having a short snooze can be very beneficial.
Looking after your grandchildren:
It is a good idea for the children to have a check up with the doctor soon after they come into your care. This introduces them to their new doctor and it lets you know whether there are any problems you need to address. Find out if they have been immunised for instance.
Children who have been through times of neglect might not have had medical or dental checks for some time so make this a priority.
Where do I go for free dental health for the children?
The Department of Health, NSW has a dental program for children. School aged children may be are eligible for free care based on the clinical need and the ability of Area Health Services to meet the demand for service. Ask about this program at your child’s school.
Prior to any treatment or screening of a child by health workers parents or carers must sign consent forms provided by the health service. If your arrangement regarding your grandchildren has not been legally set out there may be some problems in receiving these services at school. Get the parents to sign an authorisation form that can be witnessed by a solicitor and speak to the school principal.
Where do I go if my grandchild has a disability?
Specialist services and support systems are available for families in which there is a child with a disability
Where can I go when I need a break?
When you are needing a break it may not be that you need to go somewhere as much as you need the children to be in the care of others for a while so you can have time off.
If you have other relatives who might take the children on occasions then make sure this happens. You may be able to negotiate something regular – monthly or bi-monthly – some sort of arrangement that you can be sure will happen.
If you have no extended family that can help out there is an Aunties and Uncles Program
02 9638 2480 that supports families. They operate in various regions and can provide an extended family that children can learn to trust and rely upon.
If you have a medical emergency and need a short stay in hospital and have no other family or friends available you may be able to get some assistance through the
Commonwealth Carers Respite Centre 1800 059 059.
There are numerous Help Lines available to families click here.