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Case Study 3

This family was referred to Home-Start because of isolation and lack of support.  During the initial contact Jean expressed her feeling of being overwhelmed and unable to cope in her role as a parent.

Jean is a single mother of four children living in a rental property in an outlying village.  The children were aged 7 years through to 1 year.  Over the past few years Jean has had no contact with her extended family and there were unresolved issues which made her disinclined to have any future contact with them.

At the time of the contact Jean was 8 weeks pregnant with her 5th child.  The father of Jean’s 4th child was also the father of her unborn child and he now lived quite a distance away.  He had provided no support to Jean other than by occasional phone contact.

Jean and the father of her first 5 children were involved in a court case for custody of these children.  Jean was finding the custody battle very stressful and was also experiencing severe morning sickness, which was lasting all day and most days Jean was “finding it difficult to get off the lounge”

At the assessment visit by the co-ordinator Jean expressed the following concerns:

  • Not coping emotionally with the children
  • No housework getting done due to nausea
  • Basic needs of the children not being met and very worried about their emotional needs
  • Feeling lonely and depressed
  • Need for practical help
  • Need for someone to talk to

Within 2 weeks Jean was linked with a volunteer couple (Jeff and Rhonda) with approx 8 years experience as Home-Start volunteers.  Jeff and Rhonda visited Jean at home on a regular basis at least once a week and in the early stages sometimes twice a week.

Rhonda and Jeff provided:

  • Practical assistance with household tasks and home maintenance, this included things like help with the washing, vacuuming, meal preparation, general cleaning, mending the gate etc.  
  • Jeff and Rhonda also met Jean at the shopping centre to assist her with the shopping and getting bills paid etc as Jean found this extremely difficult to cope with by herself  
  • Jeff and Rhonda role modelled effective communication with the children and offered some parental guidance and information around setting boundaries  
  • Special times were set aside for Jeff and Rhonda to read to the children and to play games (both indoors and outdoor)  
  • Jean was encouraged to think about family outings and after a few weeks Jeff and Rhonda were accompanying the family to the beach for outings and to BBQ Picnics.  Jean expressed that these activities were the first real outings her children had experienced in many months”.  
  • Jean experienced may difficult health issues during her pregnancy and also with the health of one of her children – during these very difficult times Jeff and Rhonda were able to provide emotional support and a listening ear.  
  • After several months two boys were enrolled in karate after school, and the volunteers would spend time with mum and then take her and the other children to watch the boys do their lessons.  
  • Jeff and Rhonda took on the role of grandparent figures and even attended some events at school with Jean and the children.

At the 4 week review with the co-ordinator Jean was still suffering from morning sickness however Jean reported that the following changes had occurred: 

  • With the practical help from Jeff and Rhonda she had “caught up with the day to day chores in the house”…this helped her to feel “more on top of things” Jean was very excited to show the co-ordinator the laundry floor which Jean “hadn’t seen in months because of the piles of unwashed clothes covering it”  
  • Jean felt more able to make decisions around her parenting role as she had someone to “bounce things off and talk to about different issues concerning each of her children”  
  • Jean reported feeling more confident in herself as a parent and she “valued the parenting experience and advice offered by Jeff and Rhonda”  
  • Jean also reported that Jeff and Rhonda’s visits were “upbuilding” and she felt that “after they came each week she could actually see light at the end of the tunnel”.

During a general review after approx 8 months visiting the co-ordinator could see a significant different in Jean’s confidence and wellbeing.  Jean had delivered a healthy baby girl, was breast feeding successfully and coping well with the older children.  eany was naturally tired, but “did not feel lonely any more”.  

The co-ordinator referred Jean to “In Home Care” after the baby was born.  In Home Care provided a carer to come and help her in the evenings with bathing the children and feed time for a number of weeks.  

The co-ordinator also arranged for the volunteers to visit twice a week during the arly post natal period for added support during this vulnerable time.  At this review the co-ordinator also initiated the first discussion with Jean around the lack of contact with her extended family and offered her support in contacting them in the future if she chose to.

The Co-ordinator provided Jean with information regarding

1.             Family Support Services

2.             Managing difficult behaviour

3.             Playgroup

4.             Bullying

5.             Early Brain Development

6.             The Importance of Play

7.             Nutrition

In summary there had been many ups and downs for Jean since Home-Start had been visiting.  She has had numerous emergency trips to the hospital with severe morning sickness, and other pregnancy complication.  Jean has had a serious fall resulting in a gash to the head and had to be transported to hospital.  One of the children had a serious allergic reaction and had to have medical attention. Jean has attended court hearings relating to the custody of her children.  Jean has had problems with neighbours bullying her children.  During all of these difficult events and situations Jean had the practical and emotional support of her Home-Start volunteers and the professional support of the Home-Start co-ordinator.

Jean is still being visited by the Home-Start volunteers however she has recently commented that she “feel ready to reconnect her relationships with her own family, and is looking to move closer to them so the children can have more regular contact with them as well.”  Jean has disclosed to Rhonda and the co-ordinator that she feels ready to move on with her own life and to start afresh with support from her own family.  Jeff and Rhonda are currently assisting Jean in looking at new housing arrangements closer to her family, and their visits are now on a fortnightly basis, with a view to exiting Jay formally from the program when she is settled in the new home.