My last agency shift

1. As you may know, when I decided a few months ago to give agency job a go, I was hoping to experience freedom. I was fully aware that being autistic I may have difficulties with quickly adjusting to new environments and commuting to places I’ve never been before was also stressful but I was hoping benefits would outweigh the problems. I can’t say how this line of work affected me long term because I simply wasn’t given enough shifts to find out.

At the beginning of this week I received a phone call from the care home that offered me a job in June and they said all my documents came back and we agreed I’d start on Monday. I feel like I actually need a routine now. I didn’t have permanent job for over a year and perhaps it was what I needed to understand myself, stop dwelling on what happened in Home Group and to realise not only that I have to have a job but also that I want one.

I was meant to do my last agency shift today, which is Thursday; I accepted it before finding out that I will be starting the new job next week. I wanted to cancel it yesterday but the agency begged me to cover it as they were worried they won’t find anyone on such a short notice. I wonder why I didn’t say ‘why don’t you give it to one of those people who didn’t get any shifts for six weeks?’

So anyway, I agreeded to come and then got upset with myself for behaving again like if I spotted ‘Magda shaped hole’ that I’m trying to fill in.

I went there today for 8am and…

2. I did tell myself to avoid commenting on issues I witness in care homes I work in. I have been working in care in several places and I’m aware that due to the nature of the job it may get chaotic at times. What I mean by that is that, for example, important items may get misplaced. Let’s say a staff is filling in daily notes of resident X while they get an alert that someone fell, or is being sick or something else. The notes then are not priority any more and they get chucked somewhere and the staff runs to assist that other resident and because the issue takes a lot of attention and time, those notes get forgotten and 45 minutes later someone else will be lie ‘where are the notes of resident X? I can’t find them anywhere’.

The same may happen with wheelchairs’ cushions, walking frames, hoist’s slings etc, not to mention glasses and hearing aids that residents are very happy to misplace themselves. Even with the best staff this cannot be avoided. I’m also aware that if a care home needs agency staff that means they are short which would suggest they are probably more organised on other days. So I did tell myself not to comment on my blog on any of that.

However, today I feel like I need to make an exception.

When I came on shift I tried to use antibacterial dispenser and except one they were all empty, and that includes the one by the reception. Then I was told to get a resident up and when I ask a question about them I was told that I already worked there.

You have to be kidding me, I thought. I worked there once only, a few weeks ago so I wouldn’t remember a thing anyway and mind you, I was working on a different wing.

But ok, let me see how it goes, I told myself. The resident was unwilling to get up and I had no idea what to do. She looked fragile and I didn’t even know whether she can walk ok. There was no care plan in her room as the care home uses an electronic system called nourish that everyone gets access to through small devices that look like mobiles but there was not enough for me so I had nowhere to take the information from.

I came out of the room and asked for help. A different staff, a very friendly one (why do I have the impression that friendliness is sometimes only a smoke screen? A way of saying ‘I helped you already so you have to deal with the rest yourself’?) managed to get the lady up (saying ‘I know we shouldn’t be doing this but…’ while lifting her by the arms), we walked her to the toilet and he then left. I gave her a wash, except of her private parts as she again refused to get up. Things were actually even worse there as she grabbed the toilet seat rails with both her hands and didn’t want to let go of them.

I don’t know how permanent staff deals with that. Perhaps they know some tricks that work, but I wasn’t aware of them, or perhaps that lady’s mobility was deteriorating and it was a particularly bad day, but with no access to information and the comment that ‘I worked there before’ I felt like I really cannot do that.

The thing is, when working in care we are responsible for other people health and even their life. It’s the care home responsibility to provide me with information and equipment needed to do my job. But if they don’t and I continue then it’s me who is in the wrong and I’d face consequences if something goes wrong.

The office staff was very apologetic about that but I didn’t feel confident about staying there. I did think for a bit that I was meant to do a 12h shift and they will be short but I was aware it’s ‘Magda shaped hole’ thinking again and I thought that I really need to learn to make different decisions in those situations.

I also realised a while ago that if I fit myself into that ‘Magda shaped hole’, I end up being treated with disdain instead of respect I’m hoping for. The apologies could probably not even be genuine and possibly were just an attempt to keep me in to the end of the shift.

Mind you, I can hear neurotypical people screaming in shock here ‘of course all they wanted was to keep you in!’ – that’s what used to happen when I commented on similar events in the past. The person was sure of something that I was only suspecting; they then decided something is wrong with me and were avoiding me from then on.

I still feel guilty about leaving, mind you. They needed me so I should have been there regardless. Possibly fitting myself into ‘Magda shaped hole’ is a form of empathy for me?

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