A carer’s tale
Please read my stories with an open mind and heart. I write these stories as entertainment and to record my stories as a carer not to blame or offend anyone.
The whole ordeal was a nightmare.
It started with me driving for over 3 hours because the handover was at 6.30pm and I had to drive though south and west London, M25 etc. in the middle of the rush hour. I know it is a tiny detail but could somebody please consider the poor carer a human being and organize his work with that in mind?
Since there is no regular carer the daughter gave a tour in the house and handed me a sheet with a descriptions of daily routines, what food Mr.D eats and gave me some heads-ups on his behavioural patterns. At around 9pm she also showed me how food-times are handled, particularly the evening one, since Mr.D is not aware of day time or night time anymore and he needs to be ‘guided’ to bed right after dinner. After changing into PJs the night catheter bag was attached to the day-one and Mr.D went to bed. He was happy explaining something in gibberish in the meantime.
While we were waiting for Mr.D to fall asleep, the daughter kindly told me that I could take Mr.D out to the cinema or a coffee to the nearby Waitrose. He likes outings. Eventually, he ceased to talk to himself and we all turned in for the night.
At 5.30am Mr.D was up walking around his room and dragging his night catheter bag along. Half awakened, I rushed into his room, asked him to sit down so I could detach the night catheter bag and help him get dressed.
As I guided MR.D downstairs the daughter and the husband were leaving for a mini-break. As they were leaving the house, the husband gave me a ‘sorry’ smile. I was not sure what he meant then, but I soon realized it.
Mr.D was sitting in the TV room until I get dressed and collected myself. During the day, Mr.D is rather silent apart from occasional lecturing that he does on his own or his attempts to ‘go home to his wife’ who is long dead. Though, he has a catheter he is still aware when he needs to have a bowel movement, however, as soon as he reaches the toilet he forgets all about it so needs support with staying in the toilet until he is down, otherwise, he walks around the house with his trousers down.
Occasionally, he gets upset about something so he needs to be derailed until he forgets about the subject he was upset about.
He is to eat about 5 times a day, however, he does not seem to like eating at all. I have never thrown so much food away ever before. He only eats approximately 7 different types of food: toast, cheese, chips, crisps, fried meat, cornflakes and sweets, but he often does not eat them either. He does not understand that what lays in front of him is food that he is to eat. He often needs to be promoted.
The last meal of the day at about 9pm is exciting because it kicks off the evening routine that needs to land him in bed. This dance has particular steps, and the carer must make sure she play her cards right if she wants to have a wink of sleep that night.
Luckily, I managed to guide Mr. D into bed every night but he did not stay there long. Every night he was up numerous time talking. Sometimes I could ask him to stay in bed a bit longer but one night he wanted to get up and 2.30am. I helped him get dressed and guided him to the TV room where he dozed off. I checked on him every 2 hours until 7ish when I got up myself.
During my four-day, I hardly slept at all. Unfortunately, I cannot fall asleep on command during the day, neither could I really leave Mr.D alone, who stayed most of the time in the TV room but could suddenly want to go home or else because he has no control over his faculties any more. I basically did not take a break for four days and I hardly slept at night. During the day, I tried to doze by the kitchen table between meals. Because I was exhausted, I could not do much else but watch the TV in the kitchen or doze.
The second day, I tried to find a log-book and a care plan. I managed to find a log book of the previous carer. It is obvious that no carer returns to this particular client and I am not surprised. I read the log-book that was enlightening. The poor carer whose assignment was also for about 3 or 4 days slept none either. Later I learnt from the cleaning lady some ‘horror stories’ of other carers who were left with Mr.D for two weeks during which time Mr.D was taken to hospital with a urinary infection on top of the waking night and the daily ventures. She never returned to this assignment either.
Rather surprisingly, I did not find a care plan that should have enlightened me about Mr.D.’s condition, routine and other ‘professional’ matters, not mentioning a telephone number to call in case of emergency, etc. Eventually, when MR.D decided not to eat for a whole day, I let the daughter know, who kindly suggested a course of action.
I also wrote to the agency around the 2nd day that I had not been feeling very well. It was probably due to my sleeplessness and exhaustion plus I did not seem to have properly recovered from the cold I had the previous week. I asked the agency for replacement. The answer was: “to be perfectly honest I do think it important that you realise that a live-in arrangement is not something where anyone can “jump in” at the last minute as companions are assigned and when free they are not in UK. Perhaps you can take some paracetamol or other flu medicine to help you get over it. My priority is with our clients who have an illness where they are deeply vulnerable if left without care so do forgive me if I am not very sympathetic to a cold, although I can understand that you are not feeling your best.”
No further comment.