Ruminating for a cause



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Isn't she lovely

Posted by Josephine Reichert on September 30, 2011 at 5:20 AM Comments comments (0)
The current late autumn heatwave might be enjoyed by most of us, but our client Jimmy who quickly boils over in any weather seemed to be steaming. All day he told people to fuck off, screamed at fellow clients, threw things. We couldn't figure out what it was that got him so angry as he does not speak much. In the afternoon he told me he was bored and wanted to go to the pub. The shift leader had left with the car so I couldn't fulfill Jimmy's wish. Instead I suggested to go into the garden. He agreed but once we got there he still seemed agitated. I decided to put some music on my phone on and this worked a Wonder. Jimmy relaxed, even danced a bit and forgot about his worries. Thanks to Stevie!

Yes, you are mad!

Posted by Josephine Reichert on September 21, 2011 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

I have worked so much in the one home this month that I am starting to feel how it is grinding me down. The other day one client told me to f u c k off and event called a c u n t and I just walked away and told him under my breath but audible enough to him to fuck himself. A little later a client was telling me again and again that someone had stolen her watch from her room and i just snapped back at her that she is the only woman living in the home so that a male client would probably be seen soon wearing her gold watch. And finally, the same day, a client having a bit of a down time said 'am I mad' and I answered in the positive. I'm not proud of these things put too much repitition of the dsame questions and behaviour make you want to scream, so I am quite glad that I only muttered these answers. But I thought you should know...


Posted by Josephine Reichert on September 16, 2011 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (2)

it probably does not come as a surprise to you that the company car was not such a big deal. well in fact i will never know as i never got to see it. i had a call three days ago asking me to do this shift tomorrow. i asked where it was and the agent said it would be out in shropshire. i told her i didn't want to work that far out, as it took me 1 hour and a half last time to drive there and i don't want to spend that kind of time in the car when i start working at 7 am and finish after 10pm. she said that it was much closer to birmingham, maximum 40 minutes drive time. this is when i agreed. so today, dreading the early start and waiting for my car, i got the rota through with the addresses on. it turns out the first house is an hour and a half away after all. i got so angry that i was shaking and thinking this through i decided to call it off. to top it off the guy dropping off the car was two hours late. so i called my boss and told him that i wasn't going to work that shift. he kept calm but was of course not happy. he tried to bully me into doing it, appealing to my conscience. i repeated to him that i was furious about being lied to and that the only reason i had agreed to do the shift had been the fact that she told me it would only take 40mins. finally he said 'so you're not working tomorrow' and i replied 'no'. i suppose i am no longer employed there. but i can live with that.  

Company Car

Posted by Josephine Reichert on September 16, 2011 at 4:45 AM Comments comments (0)

you might have read that i recently joined a new agency and this agency keeps sending me to shropshire, telford and lichfield, which are 40 mins to 1h30 drive away from home. i get a fraction back of what i am meant to get from the agency (15p per mile instead of 40p - although apparently i can claim the rest back but still haven't figured out how...) but i still spend hours in the car each day. do when our car failed it's MOT i thought i had finally got a way out of this dilemma (i can't say no). but... guess what... i was offered a company car! i have yet to find out what it is, probably a KA, i doubt i'll get a mercedes, but let me dream! anyway, i still have to get up at 5am tomorrow, drive to shropshire work from 7am until 10pm, BUT i will be cruising along in a leather seat, have the cup holder hold my hot beverage and my ipod on shuffle... and also - i will be able to live next month from ALL THE MONEY i will earn. comparatively, of course, it will be very little, but i earn 35p more per hour than in my other job... yes, you are right, it's time to find a better job!

Read & Sign

Posted by Josephine Reichert on September 13, 2011 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

I was signing a read & sign sheet today, which is basically a way of saying that I have understood what I read and by signing I agree to it. Well this particular document talked of confidentiality and how I would be dismissed from my position if I talked about a client from the company by name outside of the home or if I mentioned enough information about the client even without mentioning their name. So really what I am doing here is enough to get me fired. I have been aware of this fact but reading and then signing it today did make me wonder about this policy. Surely, what I am doing is not discussing someone's confidential information but I am working against stigma. Surely this entire blog could be seen as a way of spreading the word that people with mental health problems and brain injury are people, are likeable and are not written off. That us carer care about them, empathise with their situation. And I am also engaging in something that I think is missing in popular culture which is to do with the voice of the carer. I want us to be recognised for our work. So even if what I am doing is only affecting three handful of people, it might be a step in the right direction. Which is why I decided to write about this here, as it would be very ironic if one of my supervisors of managers were to stumble accross it! 

Manager of this place

Posted by Josephine Reichert on September 11, 2011 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

It's interesting to note how confabulation, common with brain injury, becomes a daily part of a carer's life. A lot of people we care for cannot remember major things about themselves, such as who they are, so their brains automatically make up stories to fill the gaps. We all do it if we think about it, we always try and put ourselves in a better light after an incident or after a night out. We make up things and sometimes we don't realise we do. At work we have several clients who make up things quite regularly. One client swears to have been in several wars and being able to use any gun. He has plenty of war wounds to show for himself and even more stories of this time. He also used to be an incredibly good looking young man, taking out hundreds of girls on dates. This clashes a bit, knowing that he is a sikh. Another client is convinced that he is a smoker and constantly asks for cigarettes. He used to despise smokers before his injury and his wife is adament we shouldn't give him cigarettes. This client also believes that he runs the home, which he calls a hotel. He regularly bosses staff around, asks them do drive him in 'his' car somewhere. He asks me whether I have fed the cats (there are no pets) and if I have taken care of the children. Finally one last client is convinced that someone once stole a necklace of him and it makes him so mad that he usually forgets to breathe and screams so loud that he looses his voice. Of course these are similar to hallucinations, but in every day conversation they become quite comical in their spontaneous adaptation. So I asked the manager client if he wanted to go to bed recently and he said, 'I can't go to bed yet, what about the children?', I played along 'They are fine, I've brought them to bed.' 'What about that one?' he added, pointing at the supervisor.   

Take no notice

Posted by Josephine Reichert on September 9, 2011 at 5:40 AM Comments comments (0)

During my recent domilicary care run I was running quite late in the evening, as the agency had called me up several times to squeeze in more calls along the way. I was probably an hour late when I got to Matt's house at half ten. Matt is about 70 and had, of course, already gone to bed. It took me ages to firstly find his house, as he lived in a residential area where every house looked the same but they didn't make it logical when numbering them. And secondly I couldn't figure out the key code. Finally it worked and I walked into a pitch black house. I felt like in a horror movie. I firstly put all the lights on and then went looking for the folder to tell me what to do here - remember, I'm agency so I don't know the clients nor their needs. I found it and had a look through medication etc. There was nothing really apart from checking he was fine and putting him to bed. So I started walking through the house trying to find the bedroom. As I was just about to open a door, Matt opened it from the inside as if in slow motion and I was standing there frightened to death. I'm not normally a scaredy one but this really freaked me out. Luckily a very small and thin man walked out of his room hunched over on his cane. He was already expecting me to stand there and just said: "Take no notice, I'm just an old man." I asked him if I could do anything and he declined and sent me home. After that I walked briskly to the car, but Neil Young on full volume and sange along all the way home.


Posted by Josephine Reichert on September 7, 2011 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I have never talked about agents! I can't believe it. I have worked with a few of them in the past and present and I can tell you: they are all the same. Most commonly fat, white and complexed for which they over compensate by being flirty going towards slimy. They are always super friendly in the beginning, they will promise you work close to home, better wages, better hours etc. Then slowly it all goes wrong, you get calls after 22pm asking you to cover a shift the next morning, starting at 5 in a home about 100 miles away from your home. You'll get the usual: "I wouldn't ask you to work 72 hours straight but we are really in a pickle here" and you get "but you said you would be available this weekend..." I have complained about most agents that I had and it usually helped easing them off a bit. Expecially when studying at the same time or when you believe in keeping a steady social network, you will not become friends with your agent. 

I just wish they would realise that we (carers) don't think that they are in a better position at all. I would a hundred times prefer wiping bums than sitting behind a computer all day calling up carers and bullying them into working! Even when I only get paid half the wages, maybe even less. I'd rather not know. Yet no carer ever showed any signs to me of being complexed about their job... odd no?


Posted by Josephine Reichert on September 5, 2011 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Jim: Hello my dear, how are you?

Me: Fine Jim, and how about you?

Jim: I'm good. Would you like to play cards with me?

Me: Jim, it's nearly lunch-time and you are still wearing your pyjamas. How about we go to your room and i'll help you have a bath and then we'll play cards.

Jim: Oh no no, I have nothing else to put on.

Me: Yes you do Jim, I just got some of your clothes from the laundry.

Jim: Really? In there?

Me: Yes, in your room.

Jim: Yes but I would really like a cigarette.

Me: Ok, how about this. We play cards for 10 minutes, then we go to your room, get you looking good, then we nip to the shop and buy what ever you need.

Jim: Let's go now, I'm ready.

Me: No, you can't go to the shops in your pyjamas.

Jim: Yes I can.

Me: Well, I won't come with you then.

Jim: Oh, alright then.

Me: Is that a deal, 10 minutes play and then we'll go to change you?

Jim: Yes, ok.

Me: Promise.

Jim: Ok, I promise.

(10 minutes later)

Me: Ok, Jim, it's half past now, lets go to your room.

Jim: No, I want a cigarette now!

Me: We have none, we have to go to the shop.

Jim: Ok, let's go then.

Me: Remember, we made a deal?

Jim: Oh, yes, it's half past ten now, isn't it?

Me: Yes, so lets go to your room.

Jim: Oh, no. Not yet. My leg hurts.

Me: You promised though.

Jim: No I didn't. Give me a smoke now!

Me: Oh, Jim.  


Posted by Josephine Reichert on September 3, 2011 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (0)

This post is dedicated to Kylie - not the singer, the colleague. She was awful. As I consider myself an A* carer, I must tell you about an awful one to justify myself! I met her outside the house of our first call and she ruined it within seconds. She went: "This is going to be horrible. The client is really fat, he just sits there all day and eats and gets even fatter. He's disgusting, so is the house! We'll just wizz in and out, I can't stand it in there." The last sentence was uttered right in front of the door. I noticed that the kitchen window was open. As we walked in I saw a man standing in the kitchen, who must have been a family member. He didn't greet us, but I can't blame him. I was terribly embarrassed and as we walked into the house and greeted Falk (here's a nice German made up name for him, perfect) I wanted to die. Falk turned out to be a big but lovely man, who needed quite little assistance and was very funny. I came back later for the evening call and even got a hug from him! We helped him onto a rotastand, which is a rotating standing aid, onto which he pulled himself, we then sat him on the commode and wheeled him into the bathroom. We left him to attend to his business for a few minutes and then got him back into his armchair. Admittedly, his bathroom was pretty grubby and I would have liked to attack it with a lot of bleach, but I think, really, it was just old. So that was it, Falk thanked us and we left. I wondered why I needed to be warned.

As if this wasn't bad enough, Kylie proved even worse at the next call. This was a lady, Sue, with one leg amputated, diabetes and bedbound. So not exactly the kind of existence one would want to lead. We got in and changed her pad in the bed, it all went well but Sue was not happy. Especially when we rearranged her pillows behind her back. A district nurse was also present to check her blood sugar. So we proceeded to change the pillows but we couldn't please Sue. She started crying and this kicked Kylie off: "Now, don't start crying, it was the same thing yesterday! There is just no pleasing you. Just tell us WHAT YOU WANT and we'll do it for you!". Sue had given up on us by that point and just said it was fine as it was. I kept reassuring her and telling her that we had time to fix it to her liking but Kylie's attitude had clearly put her off. So we left, Sue sitting in this uncomfortable position for the next 4 hours, the district nurse having overheard Kylie's embarrassing tantrum... Not a good day...