Alright my lover?
I fully appreciate my first blog entry only went live last night and I’m still very new to this. But, after going to bed on a little high there was a potential future blog post that kept going around in my head. The intention was, let you all get to know me and my little family first then go in with the other cockwomble. The truth is, I woke up again this morning with this still in my mind and so I guess, I need to put my fingers to the keyboard and let it all out. I apologise that it’s not all as light hearted as my first.
Unfortunately, both my daughter and myself have had to make this our second sick day, it literally has been all shits and not much giggles in this house but, I’m no good at sitting down when I’ve got little fireworks going off in my brain so here it is.
I’ve not always been a Carer, nor have I always lived in Northamptonshire. I’m actually still classed as a ‘newbie’ to both. Before moving away for love, I was a mostly a Barber by trade and a customer care advisor for a well known payday lender (don’t judge me, I had to feed my daughter and bills don’t just stop because I ask politely).
On my first date with Paul, one of the first things he told me about (after his children of course) was his beloved Nan. His Nan was living in a care home nearby because she had dementia and looking after her at home was quite simply, not possible. I say “his Nan had dementia” but that’s a lie. Nobody HAS dementia. Dementia HAS you. Dementia not only has the person diagnosed with it, but it also has their loved ones. It’s like a big, ugly shadow that casts its spell over everyone, holds you in its clutches and there is only ever one way out.
When Paul was telling me about his Nan, I think I realised that not only did I adore him already for the way he spoke of his children and his love for them, but I also had this feeling I wanted to be with this guy, for a hell of a long time. It’s very rare I hear a man talk of his Grandparents with so much love and respect, even though he had told me what was happening with his Nan, he didn’t let her illness define her and went on to tell me about his memories with her as a young lad (picture a young, better looking, Ricky Butcher in a football kit).
I’ve always loved the elderly, even the ones who look down at the youngsters with a look that says “Not in my day”, and why shouldn’t they? They are a generation that didn’t get half of what we are lucky to have now, a generation who know what is to work for pittance and really struggle, a generation who went to war, left behind families who often loved and lost. They’ve earned their right to look at us like a neat parcel of shit for not holding a door open or giving up our seat on the bus!
I always knew I wanted to be a carer after looking after many elderly relatives of my own, unfortunately, being a single Mum at the time meant I couldn’t devote my life to anyone other than my child. Because that’s what being a carer is, it’s devoting a piece of yourself that you can’t give to anybody else, splitting that piece into several other pieces, growing extra pairs of hands and being in several places at once. Anyway, when I upped sticks and moved, Paul encouraged me to do whatever job I wanted because he would support me with it and most of all, he would support me with Beth. So there I was, walking into my new career as a carer in a mostly dementia based residential home (I must add, I’m not there anymore, I’m currently on my third and favourite setting).
The press have successfully managed to put a massive stigma on the care profession, both on care settings and carers themselves. From articles I have seen and read, I can see why. The sad thing is, we rightly cry from the rooftops about the bad guys, but the good guys go unnoticed and that’s the unfair part. I like to think I am one of cares good guys, I’ve mostly only ever worked with the good guys, when it comes to the bad apples, my only advise is this: DOCUMENT, COMPLAIN AND DON’T EVER BE AFRAID TO CALL CQC.
What outsiders don’t see about us carers is the person outside of the uniform. To them ,we are JUST a carer, but we are more than that, we are parents, spouses, friends and so on. We look after other peoples family while our own families are without us. We give up our Christmases with our children, we miss milestone days and we work 24 hours a day. Ok so physically that’s not legal, but when we go home, we still work, either studying for our Care Certificates and Qualifications, attending training courses or just going home worrying that we could have done more that day.
No amount of training can prepare you for the job you are taking on. Nobody can prepare you for the heartbreak you will endure, or the fact that you have to become a counsellor for families grieving for the person their relative once was, nobody can warn you enough about the less than glamorous bits or even the talk of loose bowels on your lunch break. You will learn to become the best at ducking a punch or a stray leg and you will develop a thick skin when names are called. There will be nobody, nobody whatsoever, who can prepare you for nursing a family member on their last days whilst trying to be professional at work or understand how hard it is to walk back into their room once they are no longer there. But, that said, my favourite part they miss on training is this, there will be no certificate given for the good you do or the fact you have finished your day with a full heart knowing you have given your everything. Because that is what I feel everyday at work, I feel proud of myself for knowing that although I may have rocked up to work looking like I had a glorious five minutes of lay down cuddles with Tom Hardy, the people in my care look immaculately presented and have smiled with me, even if it’s just once.
There are good guys behind the scenes that go unnoticed too, the managers that have their heads on the chopping block each and every day, the secretaries and P.As that have a constant workload, the chefs that have to make sure every single residents nutritional needs are met, the domestic team forever shampooing soiled carpets and stripping beds, the laundry team that have a never ending ‘Mum’ basket of washing, the maintenence men who deserve Bob The Builder status, the activities staff – honest to God, they’re fabulously genuis, the hairdressers (the smell of perm lotion is on my top 5 fave smells list) and even the families who work with the staff to make sure we are at the top of our game.
You will never know how important you will become to the people in your care unless you are a carer yourself. These people put their trust in us, as do their families, to make sure we become their eyes,ears and a cog in the brain that no longer does what it’s meant to do. You are nuts if you enter this job and think you can detatch yourself from these people, I thought I could when I first started out but, naturally, my heart was big and I became ‘involved’. Take Mr P and Mrs R for example, they became my surrogate Grandparents, I obsessed over them in work and obsessed over them out of work, my children even asked about them every day and so when they passed away, I felt broken. I still do to this day. A piece of me still asks myself if I could have done more, but I know I couldn’t, I gave everything I had and more. As a carer or anyone who works in a care setting you will always go the extra mile, you say you won’t do it anymore, but you will. I pride myself on knowing that I do that on the regular and I will continue to do that until the day I retire from my position.
So please, if you know a carer, you have family residing in a care environment or just because you are a decent human being, give them a hug today, tell them what an amazing job they are doing, you may not realise it, but they need to hear it just so they know the media hasn’t totally won. They may win the battle, but they will never win the war.
High Five Fellow Carers
*imaginery heart emoji*