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Posts Tagged ‘travel and my job’

I was recently working at a position in Shepperton

exploring the UK

Old Shepperton

…..lovely lady, light cooking, not much to do in terms of housework, and not much by way of shopping…..but and this is a BIG BUT….it was a killer from a physical aspect and I eventually felt like I was broken. Every joint in my body was aching, my shoulders were aching – even my toes and feet were aching. The reason for this is mobility and lack thereof: I had to mobilise and transfer the lady up to 25 times a day….okay so the agency said she has a ‘Sara Steady’ to move her around, but what they didn’t mention is that even with wheels, the weight of moving her around the house, hauling the frame over the ledges between rooms, manoeuvering the frame into position countless times a day and the morning and afternoon and evening manual handling of a 9.5 stone lady who is semi-paralysed on the left hand side is excruciatingly exhausting and after 4.5 days I felt broken.

This type of role is not new, I’ve been in loads of similar positions before where there is a lot of manual handling and sheer physical graft. The training staff at the annual M&H sessions always say…oh, just do this, or just do that. They use us, the trainees….able bodied persons who instinctively assist and aren’t a dead weight, as the ‘dummy’ for demonstrating. Okay so fine. But although they always say ‘we realise it’s different when you’re on the job’, seldom is our physical health given too much consideration when placing us at assignments. We are given all sorts of tips and ideas to use to help our clients mobilise, which is all well and good if the client is unwilling or unable to position themselves or move themselves into a position that is suitable for us to then use that idea or tip. Many are unable to shift ‘first one leg, then the other’ because they are a) semi-paralysed bearing the full weight of their bodies, or b) too heavy from not getting any exercise due to their particular disability (obviously not their fault) or c) refuse to have the Carer use a strap/belt to lift them, preferring instead to ‘please can I use your arm’. If you say no, we’ve been trained to do it this or that way, they get into a sulk and then you find that they ‘don’t like you, or you’re not suitable’ = black mark against your name. Either that or you get the same old story ‘the last girl didn’t mind’ or managed alright. Hmmmm.

I’ve been doing this ‘job’ for the last 14 years. In that time, amongst all the other manual handling positions I’ve had to manage, I’ve had to push a client up a hill in a wheelchair because his son wanted his father to ‘go shopping with you so he can choose what he wants’ giving little thought to the fact that pushing a dead-weight and groceries up a hill in a wheelchair is extremely difficult and hard on the body of a Carer who weighs less than the client, wheelchair and groceries put together!!! In that instance it was Wembley Hill.

Last year I was at a position where I had to wheel someone who weighed 12 stone across a deep pile carpet in a hoist. The family just didn’t ‘get it’ when I said it was too heavy and after a few others choice situations at that particular assignment, they lodged a complaint about me…nice one, kill myself on the job and invite a complaint. More recently I was working, again with a hoist, and as I slipped my arm beneath the client’s leg to pull the sling strap through I twisted my wrist…I thought I had broken it. Fortunately I hadn’t, but it hurt like hell. But I didn’t give up, I strapped my wrist up, paid more attention to how I was using my hands and carried on till the end of the assignment…..that’s what you do. The alternative is quitting and losing pay and the agency usually don’t have any other assignments for you, as well as which they don’t always take kindly to their Carers quitting. Fortunately I was working with a double up carer and not on my own so at no stage was the client’s safety compromised. When I got home after that particular assignment I went to A&E and had x-rays done, and although nothing was broken it seems I damaged a ligament?? And that only heals with time.

I’ve had to lift heavy legs off and onto beds more times than I care to remember, allow a disabled person to grip my elbow while they raise themselves up coz even if you had a mobility belt/strap, they don’t have the proper bed, the right equipment or the strength to manoeuvre and due to their weight you can’t get the belt positioned properly under their body. Moving a 9 stone plus disabled person whether in a wheelchair, in a hoist, on a Sara Steady or using a slide sheet is exceptionally strenuous on your joints and body in general and eventually takes it’s toll….hence the damaged ligament!

14 years later and I am broken.

After 10 days at this last assignment I caved in, I reached a point where I could barely lift my arms and walking was agony….my poor toes were sore!! Since I really didn’t want to compromise my health any further or the safety of my client, I phoned the agency and asked to be replaced. Thankfully I got through to someone who was understanding (not always the case), and within two days I was handing over to someone new and on my way home. The family weren’t quite so understanding. The next time I hear the words “but the last Carer managed alright” I think I’ll spit!!!!

We do not come out of an Ikea flat-pack!

The bugger of it is that I’m heading towards my mid-60’s and won’t be able to manage these ‘heavy’ assignments for much longer…ergo my income will drop, which means I’ll have to work more days each month and my lifestyle will be reduced as a result – I currently work between 14-21 days per month; on duty 22 hours a day, of which 7-8 hours is for sleep, and my ‘weekends’ are the days I’m home….once on an assignment, it’s exceptionally rare to get more than 2 hours a day off.  Some months I get a 3 or 4 day weekend.  It’s not as if we Carers earn a load of money anyway, but once you start taking on the lighter roles, the daily rate drops, the number of assignments are fewer and so the process, like my body, gets broken.

I left the job just on 6 days ago now and I’m still aching…..darn!! LOL or not. Maybe I’ll do a Forrest Gump……I hear Orkney is quite lovely!! 🙂

On the plus side I got to explore another area of the UK and although the new part of the town itself wasn’t brilliant, the old town was quaint and pretty

old shepperton

Old Shepperton

and to my joy the River Thames was nearby; I managed to walk there a couple of times during my breaks which was a real bonus.

The River Thames at Shepperton

The River Thames at Shepperton

shepperton and the river thames

River Thames and Shepperton Lock

There’s always a plus side 🙂

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