Care work, things I have learnt so far

This week has been eventful to say the least. I went into the office on Monday, having heard on Friday that my DBS (aka CRB) check was finally back, and I got my shifts for shadowing another worker out in the community. I was really excited to be going out there and actually getting stuck in after a week of training last month in the office. I had done care work before but never in a paid or professional capacity. Now was the real deal.

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This was me getting ready for work!

I was raring to go. I have always loved to look after people and now I was actually in a position where I was trained up and getting paid to do it! What more could I want? I was all prepared with my shadow shifts (actually shadowing someone I met in my training in July! We were trained together, but he was able to get out on the job sooner than I was) and Tuesday morning (very early Tuesday morning) I woke up and made my way to the meeting point.

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This is how early I had to wake up!

It was a pretty chilled day on Tuesday, even my co-worker said the same, mostly it was just talking to people, social visits. We had to do a little personal care (though as it was my first day I mostly stood back and watched all bar a few times) and some meal prep but mostly it was just sitting down and talking to people. It was lovely, hearing stories about the clients from what they had done in their younger years. I love talking to people who have been around a lot longer than I have, hearing how things were for them. I never really was one for History class but I will always listen to someone telling a first hand report on what they had to do when the men went away to war.

There was lots of chances to ask questions and my co-worker was quick to answer and help me where he could. It was also my first experience of coming across a DNR (Do Not Ressusitate) which was interesting to see.

By the end of the day though, I was exhausted, I had only worked from 8 until 2.30 but even that wiped me out. It didn’t hold me back however, I was ready for day two already!

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Me, at the end of the day but still ready to go. (I wish this really was me, RDJ is hot!)

Day two of shadowing came along on Wednesday and I was looking forward to it. I managed to somehow get in ridiculously early that day and arrived in Lewes at 7am! It would have been fine except I wasn’t due to meet my co-worker until 7.40 at the earliest. So I walked around instead. I explored a little bit of the local area to the bus stop, down the street at the shops etcetera. It was good to be able to place things in the area as it was soon to be my work stomping ground.

While waiting for my co-worker to arrive, a friend who also works for my company was spotted and I stopped and had a good chat with her about how I was finding things and what I had to look forward to. It was nice to catch up and chat as she is also a ‘walker’ (something I am described as at work as I do not drive, but rely on mostly walking/cycling/public transport) and knows the area quite well having grown up there (as have a lot of the other carers).

My co-worker arrived and we were off to his regular morning client just outside of the town and it was good to be there a second day knowing a little about what to do. I got more stuck in on Wednesday, as this client has a lot of stuff that needs to be done and is very precise about it (as would I be if it affected my life and daily routines). It was lovely to do as the client is wonderful and always has a good joke and chat about various topics. A lot of the morning clients were nearby so we went on to the next two easily and went about the normal routine. My co-worker got me doing loads more that day and I helped to wash people, take tempretures, make beds, etcetera. I just worked to make everything as comfortable as possible for our clients.

The day passed a lot like Tuesday, though perhaps slightly more hands on. I loved it again.

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Do what you love, love what you do

Then came my last day of shadowing. I was slightly nervous now as I knew my co-worker would be getting me to do a lot more stuff, and I had also requested if I could stay on and do the evening shift too, just so I could know what to do of a night time, so that meant a longer day, 8am until 9.30pm we were out (with breaks) and while I was worried to start with, I am not really sure why! It passed well! I made food for people, I helped get them up in the day and back to bed in the evening, I got to have more lovely conversations and all around have fun. Who doesn’t want a job that is challenging yet puts a smile on your face?

By the time I got home though I was exhausted. I didn’t get in until around 10.30pm (damn buses) and when I got back I ate and went pretty much straight to sleep. It was great but no way could I start at the same time the next day too, something I made sure to tell the office so I wasn’t sheduled too early!

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After all the shadowing, I was falling asleep just petting our cats too

Now I was done with my shadowing the real work came out. I was now going out on my own in the community. Exciting! My first clients weren’t until Saturday so I had chance to breathe on Friday and wake up a lot later on Saturday as I was only working with three clients in the evening.

I decided to start using my bike straight away as I would soon be doing that for getting to clients anyway alongside the bus and so I had been told the journey wasn’t too bad. Google Maps put it at around 22 minutes to get from the train station to my first clients home, so I decided to give myself 45, just in case I got lost or took longer for whatever reason.

I got into the station and hopped straight onto my bike and followed the directions I had been given. Dear god it was definately more than 20 minutes! I left the station at 4.45pm and arrived at my first client at 5.27pm, just enough time to make the 5.30pm call and not be late. It was a lot more hilly than I expected, having only been past in the car it was a lot less work then. I was already starting to worry as I had two more clients, one back the way I had just come and the other back again where I was for my 5.30 call. (So basically point A when I arrived to point B, back to point A, then back to point B, then point A again to go home) I only had 30 minutes to get between clients. It was going to be a close one.

I made it to my second client on time, sorting out her needs then it was off again back to point B. This time it didn’t go as quickly as before. I was still in the town of point A ten minutes before I was due to arrive at my last clients home and I had to call up the On Call out of hours phone. They at first thought I was driving, so it was only when I explained no, I was cycling, that they told me not to worry. They called up the other carer working with me that evening (it was a double up call) and the client and explained the situation. I was told to just cycle at my own pace and make it there, don’t worry about the time so much.

So I did. What I didn’t realise is this clients house may as well have been point C. It was so much further than my first one that I must have been in the town for about half an hour longer just to get to her place. I was due to get there for 9.15pm and it wasn’t until 9.50pm that I actually arrived. I was exhausted but quickly set to work to help the client. I apologised profusely for the time and she just told me not to worry, it wasn’t my fault, I should have been allocated more time. I did explain that I had thought half an hour would be fine – after all, that is what Google had told me for how long while cycling – but I would be calling up the office on Monday to explain that I needed more time to do something like that.

After we finished it was nearing 10pm and I was exhausted. I just wanted to get on the train and sleep. Not cycle another 5 miles to get to the train as I still had to do. The other carer tried to get my bike in the back of her car but it wasn’t having it, the bike was too large and the car too small. I was to cycle back.

I hadn’t even got out of the villiage when my legs began to give way. I made my way to a bus stop and begged the driver to let me on with my bike, but alas he said no. I had to chain my bike up there and leave it while I got the bus (not an option as my bike is worth too much and I didn’t know properly where I was in the dark) or cycle back.

Cycling it was.

I just wanted to get to the main road, as once I was there everything became a lot easier. It was an A road, so it meant it was clear and there was a dedicated cycle path. Plus on the way back there was a lot more down hill sections than up so I would in theory be able to cycle without issue.

It was a bit rocky but once I got there it was okay. Unfortunately it was pitch black by now and I was relying on very low brightness LED’s and a head lamp torch I was wearing (that was quickly tightening around my forehead and giving me a headache to add to everything else). Weirdly the main road had no street lights at all so that was my only source of sight and it made things difficult when cars were driving the other way, effectively blinding me.

I made it though, having cycled 17.7 miles that day, and eventually I got back to the train station in once piece (or pretty much), sore and exhausted, I made it to the platform and awaited the second to last train. It was gone 11pm at this point, and I was ready for bed. I didn’t get home until gone midnight and I quickly ate, had a bath, and went straight to sleep until nearly 2pm the next day.

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A glimpse into how exhausted I actually looked after my shift on Saturday

Despite the issues I had on Saturday night, I still loved every moment. I had a call from the office this morning which woke me and they said I was going to be getting a new client who was to be one of my regulars. He is based in the main town so I don’t need to worry about traveling, and I will have him morning and evening. This sounds good to me and I can’t wait to meet him for the first time on Thursday.

I know I haven’t been at it long, but as long as I end up getting good hours and less agony cycling, I am really looking forward to progressing my career in this company. I am here for a while, let’s make it count!

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