the joys of being ‘cared’ for….

To blog, or not to blog…

I have no idea whether the subject about which I am writing is often blogged about or not. It certainly has an image problem, as Lawrence Clark suggested in his recent blog for the Indy’s notebook. It is also something which concerns all of us. Someone (I can’t remember who) made a comment to me recently about paying their taxes towards it. I much prefer those jokes to news articles shouting about how much it costs (or will cost) the nation in future years. There have also been articles written about problems within the industry, such as the low wages for long, difficult hours, high staff turnover, (3 staff trained partly for my specific needs are about to vanish!) and lack of organisation. As I do not wish to get any person or organisation into trouble (or indeed myself) I shall not name anyone who is currently working ‘with’ me. I say with, because not only do the best ‘carers’ care a lot, there is also, for me a sense of being in something together, and with the very best ones, copious amounts of banter. Take this morning, for example….

Another morning, with another bugger

Carer A is someone I am incredibly fond of because I like them as a person and because of the startlingly good job they do. I shouted through if they wanted the good or bad news, and they said no news … that I should wait while they prepared themselves (for the headlines). Little things, but makes a big difference. I asked them what they would do when they leave, that they would miss me. They wouldn’t be able to tell anyone they were ‘bloody useless’, for example. His reply, that he would ‘find another bugger’. This is how the morning progressed. The difference it makes however, is huge. I am starting the morning with a smile on my face and a giggle in my throat. As opposed to concentrating on the pain or discomfort, or how hungry I am because I started a d-i-e-t today!!

Thankfully, they don’t all move on to better and brighter things…

Carer B is one who is not leaving, with whom I have similar banter, and who is likely in the coming weeks to moan about having too many hours with me because so many others have buggered off. With whom I will have coffee ‘alfresco’ and catch up on our news after her holiday. A cross between a friend and a carer. A difficult tightrope to walk (or wheel). One who I am happy to introduce to my friends and who all my friends love too. I do not think she gets paid nearly enough for the privileged. As she says, she should get paid at least double for the misfortune of working with me!

‘PA’s’ or ‘carers’?!

Another debate is one for disabled people themselves, whether to employ their own PA’s and struggle to find staff or to have a care agency come in, and all the associated pitfalls. Martyn Sibley is a prolific blogger who has written about this same subject. He chose to have PA’s as it gives him more choice and flexibility. In a ideal world, this might be the route I would prefer, but having had PA’s I’d rather at this moment in time not to have to deal with the paperwork, which makes me feel lazy. Actually though, I’d rather use my energy for other things. Which means, I only have flexibility with the better carers, and I only have banter with the best of them … before they leave. Unless they have dependent children, in which case, they need flexible hours and have no choice but to stay.

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that, (to use another cliche) the current government are shooting themselves in the foot. To truly provide for our future needs, we should invest, invest, and invest again… in more pay, better conditions (such as the abolition of ‘zero hours’ contracts) and in better training in order to attract (and keep!) the best staff for the long term. As it is however, carer A is leaving to work in a branch of a well-known pizza restaurant because it pays more money than care work. Honestly, how is that ever right, even in a recession, that pizza makers are valued more highly than care workers?! Surely this perfectly illustrates why we have some of the problems we have? The world and his uncle (or Auntie) has opinions on this subject, and so here are mine! Am off to enjoy my one day without ‘afternoon care’, a ‘sit’ or ‘respite’, whatever-the-heck-you-choose-to-call-it.


26th August 2012

An aside … to do with the leaving of bread(cake) on roof of car…

Carer C and I were playing a game of sorts today trying to come up with all the things she would and wouldn’t miss about our job. She reminded me of one of her highlights! How could I have forgotten that last week, we made bread and the next day I asked her to take however much she wanted with her. That day, as she was leaving, she put the bread on the car roof before she got in the car… only for some local teenagers to stop her and yell about the ‘cake’ on the car roof. She said the look on their faces is one she’ll never forget. This story is one I’ll never forget. I have as much banter with Carer C as I do the others… and I will miss her much *sob*

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