So this is what happened in one of the care homes the agency sent me to. I mentioned I was going to post about it when I calmed down. I was actually calm yesterday but I wrote 8 posts anyway (seriously, where I take all the subjects from?) so I thought I’d leave it for another day.
I had two bookings in that care home, 12h on Tuesday and 6h on Wednesday. On Tuesday I was tiny bit late, possibly 3 minutes (I really need to allocate more time for commuting than Google maps suggest!) but then it took another 7 minutes for somebody to open the door for me. Only then I found out that I should do lateral flow test, which requires 30 minutes waiting time for the result. So in total I was 40 minutes late for my shift. I then was allocated a colleague to work with and found out from her that I have 15 minutes break per 6h shift, which I took at 11.45 and that’s when I ate my sandwich. I had another 15 minutes break on the late shift and at the end of my shift I found out that if I’m doing double (12h) I get an extra 30 minutes lunch break.
I thought, great, nobody told me! I did have two ladies coming up to me around 1pm asking if I had my lunch break and, as the 15 minutes break was pretty much at lunch time, I said I did. How I was supposed to know that the 15 minutes break is called ‘morning break’ there and not ‘lunch break’?
Mind you, this is the joy of working for an agency: when the care home I worked in permanently had agency for a couple of weeks, we were so fed up with having new people all the time that we quickly stop telling them stuff and just expected them to do the work. Laundry, cleaning and possibly taking people for walks was all they did. Anything that required knowing procedures was done by permanent staff – it was easier this way than explaining it to agency and later checking if they got it right. We also didn’t explain to them meals and breaks arrangements. Instead we just said: you can have your lunch now.
So on the second day I came 20 minutes early but still had to take the test, so that meant 10 minutes being late for my shift.
When I asked one of the office staff to sign my timesheet after the second day, she took 30 minutes away from it. She was a bit abrupt with me and said that it’s for the time I spent waiting for my test result on the first day and ‘anyway, I was late’. I would understand if she took time away for me being late, but I thought the test time would be paid? If I have to do test before every shift and I do 5 a week that will add up to over 10h a month that would be unpaid. I don’t think it’s very fair?
But because I didn’t take my 30 minutes break, I would say even the time for me being late shouldn’t be deducted, although to be clear, I didn’t mention that to that lady at the time.
However, ten minutes from first day waiting time and another ten minutes from the second day hasn’t been taken away and that’s what made me upset because, while I thought I was giving them a favour for not asking for my 30 minutes break on the second day, the lady who signed my timesheet made it look like it’s them who give me a favour for not deducting those 20 minutes as well. I wonder if this is how a neurotypical person would interpret it as well?
When I was on the bus stop I took my mobile out and wrote a venting email to the lady from NHS service who supports me with employment. The email was very dramatic and also, I don’t think it was very clear from it what actually happened. This is how I write when I’m really upset, which then makes people think that I have some serious issues. And possibly I have (ASD) but when I calm down I can talk and write normally. But the problem is that I don’t have the chance to calm down because I then get upset about the reaction of the people who read my email.
However, as I had some trust in that lady from NHS, I managed to move on before she responded and I emailed the agency in the meantime. This email was straightforward but calm. I reminded them that I’m autistic so may not communicate well at times, however, it can also be said that it’s difficult to predict all of the questions that need to be asked, while the care home staff knew all the rules and didn’t pass them on to me. I said that I’m worried the miscommunication may reflect negatively on how the care home staff see my working practice.
I was still a bit worried about the agency response and wondered if, possibly, it wouldn’t be better to just keep quiet? I’m sure situations like that happen sometimes and it’s not even anyone’s fault as such.
The agency response was very interesting. Although I still don’t know whether it’s reasonable to expect me to come 30 minutes early before every shift, they said they’ll pay me for that 30 minutes that was taken off my timesheet. Then the email discussed my need to ask questions (but I did, didn’t I? And I was told the break is 15 minutes by 6h shift. I was thinking that’s a bit little for 12h shift but as 12h shift is made up of two 6h shifts it kind of made sense). And at the end there was this sentence stating that they want to assure me the care home didn’t say anything negative about my working practice.
And what I thought was that the agency is hinting me that they didn’t speak with the care home regarding the issue. Which kind of made sense to be honest. Discussing thigs like that in the open upsets people. Yet, at the same time we are told in various smart psychological articles that issues need to be discussed in the open. And somehow neurotypical people know not to do that, or at least not every time, but we, autistics, totally fall for it.