This is another post of my experience of working in social care. I’ve been doing this job for like 12 years and, again, some things are different when you see them from inside of the organisation, to how they are being presented. Obviously every organisation will say they are being inclusive, but when you work there, you’ll see that they’re not always are. I have experience of coworkers picking on foreign employees and sometimes blaming them for things that didn’t even happen. I can, up to a point, see the situation from both perspectives. British communicate in very indirect way and not everyone can adjust. Also some things are different in other countries in how care is being provided. Everyone brings their own beliefs into work and that can create tension.
My belief is, for example, that if someone has a cold, they should drink hot milk with honey or hot water with honey and lemon. I don’t know if this is going to help but that’s what my mum used to give me when I was a child and had a cold. However, if I offered that to a resident who has a cold it would be seen as weird. And the fact that I am autistic doesn’t prevent me from understanding other people reaction in those situations. So I was making an effort to be caring and other people reaction would work like punishment. If it happens in another situation as well it will be easy to extend that punishment onto other situations, that will at the end make me think that I’d better not do anything because I can face backlash for literally everything I do.
What doesn’t help is that if I don’t know how to do something or I can’t find a piece of paperwork and I ask about it, what people hear is that I’m trying to get away from doing my job. And really, I can work this out. Not when it happens the first time, but if it keeps happening, I will get it. I guess this is because British, when they want to ask question about something, make conversation about it first. While I just say: Sorry, I’m not sure how to do X. And the person who I’m talking to gets funny with me.
I was in this situation at the weekend that I felt I wasn’t provided with efficient information regarding X, yet, after a bit of pondering I decided I have to do it because if I ask someone it will look like I’m trying to get away from it, and if I don’t do it, it will look exactly the same. So finally I decided that I’d better do it because I’m an agency now, if I’m being seen like lazy, I won’t get another booking.
Things went ok but only after I realised it was really silly approach. The funny thing is, when you work in care, you’re always being told that if you’re not sure about something you should ask, or, if you can’t ask, you shouldn’t do it. Yet, when I ask, people get funny with me. I really need to deal with this somehow, although I’m not sure how. I feel so discouraged now. There were so many situations that I was talked to like if I was lazy that it’s terrible.
Once, I remember, when I was still in Reading, the manager asked me to clean windows outside. I said oh yes, sure, and I reached out for the coat. And she suddenly said: Where are you going? in a tone of voice like if she was implying that I’m trying to get away from the task. I said: it’s February and you asked me to work outside so I’m putting coat on. And she was like: oh, ok, sorry! But then I thought, why this is happening to me? Not only I receive negative feedback when I ask for support or clarification but even when I’m putting coat on to work outside? Why the manager didn’t make the connection that I’m putting the coat on to do what she asked me?
Now I think the coat incident happened because of my limited nonverbal communication – the manager thought that when I said ok to cleaning windows, I didn’t mean it but what I’m supposed to do in situations like that? And why I’m still afraid to ask questions even though people know I’m autistic?
I feel like my communication difficulties fit into the broad narrative that foreigners are the source of the problem. I don’t think I can do anything about that and, if it keeps happening I’d end up burned out and then people will think that I should go back to my country and that I didn’t really want to work in the first place.
I suppose someobe else, who has good social skills, would be able to show people they’re a valuable citizen, I can’t.