Client Story 1
The Helping Young Families service has a few families who have all had babies about two to three weeks before Coronavirus COVID-19 hit Australia. For these families, the experience of COVID-19 has been exceptionally difficult. Two of these families are young Mums, with this being their first child. Given that all face to face support was ceased, including the health nurse, this was extremely difficult. While these families were offered online and telephone support, face to face support would have been a lot more helpful due to the practical support that can be offered including helping build confidence in being a first-time mum. When it came to the six-week vaccinations, the families found it difficult because they were told not to attend the doctor’s office or leave their homes.
One Mum was doing it tough, as she is a first-time single Mother who lives alone in a small flat, along a country road which is a significant distance from the closest “city”. This Mother has limited contact with her family and due to her living arrangements also has limited contact with friends.
Over the past two months, YFCC has delivered a parenting program online, which this Mother was a participant. As part of this parenting program, participants received a pack which included worksheets, interactive activities for parents and children, and a mindfulness activity for the parent. The mindfulness activity for the parent was a Mandela colouring book and colouring pencils. This Mother has stated that this activity has been a God send and has sent in photos of her artwork. This Mother has been able to utilise the Mindfulness activity in order to help relax and work through isolation, minimising the impacts this can have on mental health. Now that restrictions are starting to ease, this Mother is able to get out of the house more often but is also still enjoying their time at home.
Client Story 2
The Integrated Family Support Service Client is married with eight-year-old twin sons and a 21 month old daughter. When social distancing restrictions related to COVID-19 were enforced, the Client’s husband was instructed by his employer to work from home. Meanwhile the Client had the added responsibility of home-schooling her twin sons as well as caring for her toddler. The family home comprises three bedrooms, lounge room and kitchen/dining area allowing only limited space for a home office and desk/learning area for two boys. The twin boys are supported by a psychologist for behavioural issues related to anxiety and poor mental health and one of the boys has asthma. The Client experiences anxiety related to her parenting responsibilities and she has no support network, other than her husband, who works full-time.
During the self-isolation period my Client developed a cough and sinus problems and was tested for COVID-19. This dictated that the Client was unable to leave the house or property for two weeks during the lock down restrictions. The Client expressed her feelings of stress and anxiety at this further isolation requirement and at one stage she stated, “I am going to have a breakdown when the children return to school”. Sending the boys back to school was not an option due to one of the boys having compromised health. The Client noted during each phone appointment that the lack of communication from the boy’s primary school and the inconsistencies in their learning packs was another source of frustration to her. The Client’s daughter missed the social interaction of attending “Launching into Learning” and she constantly asked to go places not understanding the sudden change in her daily/weekly routine. As each week passed with the family at home 24/7 the Client noted the children’s behaviour escalated, hers and her husband’s patience waned and their ability to cope was tested to the limit.
Although the Client did not experience financial strain during the self-isolation period, the ceasing of the boys supports services, lack of support from the school and the absence of the usual respite whilst the boys attend school, added an extra layer of stress on the family and left the Client feeling overwhelmed and unsupported.
Notably, during this challenging time the Client remained engaged with the IFSS Worker and she reliably answered Workers prearranged phone calls, although they were kept short at times. Due to social distancing restrictions there were limitations to what support the Worker could offer, however, the Client used the phone contact to vent her feelings and she responded positively to the opportunity to have someone to listen to her and check in with her regularly.