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Friday, 23 March 2012

Promotion

It's been a while since I last posted but everything has been business as usual with nothing much to comment on. However, I have recently had some good news. I have been promoted at work and am now a Senior Care Assistant. This means that I will be taking on a lot more responsibility and a much larger work load, but I am determined to make a good job of it and I am very much looking forward to starting in my new position. This new job means that I will have a greater responsibility for the well being of my residents, it also means that I will have staff management responsibilities including planning shifts, mentoring staffs and giving staff appraisals.

This new role is a complete change from what I have been doing at the home since I started. While I have been working at the home I have been working with nursing residents, however, this promotion means that I will be moving wards, I will now be working on an EMI ( Elderly Mentally Infirm) unit. This is a secure unit and is solely residential which means that is is overseen by Senior Care Assistants rather than by nurses as my other unit was, basically this means the buck stops with me for any issues and concerns. We do have a unit manager who is responsible for ensuring that the unit runs smoothly but she herself is only qualified to Senior Care level, so there is no nursing input on a day to day basis, although we do have access to the home's nursing staff to assist us with medical emergencies.

The residents in my care have lesser care needs but are greater in number, while I was working on the nursing  unit I was with the assistance of one other carer and a nurse responsible for the care of 7 residents, whereas while working on the EMI unit I will be in charge of a team of  carers and we are responsible for the care of 21 residents in total.

The residents on our EMI unit have a range of mental health conditions, the majority suffer from some form of dementia, primarily either Alzheimer's or vascular dementia. In addition to this we have a number of residents who suffer with other mental health conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Our residents also have a number of physical health complaints such as blindness, Parkinson's, mobility issues, continence issues, diabetes and cardiac conditions, so managing their health will be quite the challenge, but it is a challenge I feel prepared for and am ready to take on.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Life of a Care Assistant Part 1 care

I have recently been asked by the Matron at the home where I work to keep a detailed diary of my day to day tasks in order for the management to get a better idea as to what the staff on the floor do on a day to day basis and the time which each of these tasks take. They maintain that getting this information directly from the staff will give them a clearer idea of what challenges we face on a day to day basis when dealing with service users. I maintain that they are asking us to do this because it means that they don't have to get off their arses and leave the office or, heaven forfend actually have to interact with the service users, but what do I know.

While this is tedious and just adds to the even increasing list of things to take up my time at work I thought that it would make quite an interesting blog topic and so I will be sharing this working diary ( with a few alterations to avoid breaching client confidentiality) here. Enjoy

Diary Day 1

Today I was slightly out of my comfort zone as I was required to work on a unit that is not where I am usually based due to an imbalance in staffing levels ( aka those who compiled the rota didn't pay any attention to how many staff we actually need). On the plus side though today was the one day a week where I work a half shift so and we had a very peaceful morning so all was well.

My day started at 6am when I was woken up by Sheldon bringing me breakfast ( he's so considerate bless him.) I ate my breakfast in bed, got myself up and ready and made it out of the flat for just before 7am in order to catch the 7:05 bus to work. The bus was actually on time so I wasn't stood out in the cold for very long :)

Following the bus ride and a then a brisk walk ( the home is on a tiny little side road and the nearest bus stop is 3 quarters of a mile away) I arrived at work and clocked on at 7:45. I changed out of my boots into work appropriate shoes and had time to grab a coffee and have a quick chat with my colleagues before heading to the nurses station for my unit handover.

Unit handover is a very important part of our working day as it is where the nursing and care staff meet to share information regarding the conditions of the service users and also where we are provided with crucial information regarding any condition changes from the night staff. In my case this unit handover was particularly important as it had been quite sometime since I had worked on the unit in question and it was a chance for me to receive information regarding changes in the service users since last time I was there. All questions answered and information it was on with the tasks of the morning.

The unit I was working on, on this particular day is home to 23 service users who are both nursing and residential clients of mixed needs and abilities. The unit itself is split into the east and west wings and I was assigned to work the east wing with a colleague and friend of mine Chrissie.* Luckily the night staff who had been on the previous night had actually done some work for a change and a significant number of residents who leave their beds, were already out of bed and in the lounge waiting for the meal time staff to take them through to the dining rooms for breakfast.

The two residents remaining who needed to be got out of bed and ready for breakfast were those who required assistance for 1 carer so we split up and began the task at hand.

At 8:25 I went into the room of Resident A* to assist him with his morning routine, this involved assisting him to get up of the bed and escorting him to his bathroom to use the toilet, while he did so I stripped and changed his bed, (a task which is not difficult but if you'd seen the hash that some people make of it you'd think it were brain surgery, it really is not that difficult to fold hospital corners on a flat sheet over a mattress), ensured his room was neat and tidy and opened his curtains. I then assisted the resident with his hygiene needs, washing if hands face etc before helping him into his dressing gown and escorting him downstairs to the dining room, this particular resident is ambulatory (using a zimmerframe) but is at high risk of falls and therefore requires assistance/observation whilst walking.

After ensuring that this resident was settled in the dining room, I again met up with Chrissie and we headed over to the west wing of the unit to offer our assistance to the staff working there.

At  8:50 we went into the room of Resident B who again was ambulatory with a walking frame, we assisted her with washing and dressing and then Chrissie escorted her to the dinning room, whilst I tidied the room, made the bed and removed her commode to the sluice to disinfect it.

After doing this I heard the call bell and went to answer it, in doing so I met up with Chrissie and at 9:15 we entered the room of Resident C who needed assistance returning to bed after using the bathroom. We noticed that her bed sheets were slightly dirty so whilst I helped the resident to clean up in the bathroom Chrissie changed the bed sheets and we assisted then resident back into her bed.

We were informed by a member of staff upon leaving this residents room that there was a resident who was dressed on his bed but as he needed a hoist to get him out of bed this would require two members of staff, Chrissie and I said that we would attend to him we entered Resident D's room at 9:30 we lifted the resident from his bed using the hoist and transferred him from his bed to the chair in the nurses station where he spends his day. I then went back into his room to make his bed whilst Chrissie headed down stairs to fetch the breakfast trolley up from the kitchen.

The next hour between 09:40 and 10:40 was spent dispensing breakfasts for those resident who remain in their rooms and assisting those who are unable to feed themselves with their meal, and then collecting up all of the dirty bowls, plates, cups and cutlery.

Upon entering resident E's room to collect her breakfast things she pointed to the hair that was growing out of her face and asked me to do something about it. I removed her breakfast tray and then went on a hunt through the toiletries cupboard for a razor and some shaving foam having found these I returned to her room and shaved her face for her.

Having ensured that all of the breakfast things had been collected in I stopped briefly to document the care that I had given that morning on the homes computer system. Before returning the breakfast trolley to the kitchen at 10:55. I then went on my allotted 15 minute break.

Upon returning from my break I found one of my colleagues  handing out mid morning drinks, I teamed up with her and gave drinks to those residents who needed assistance with drinking before I returned the drinks trolley to the kitchen at 11:30

After doing so I went in to the home's main lounge or "day room" as some people call it and covered lounge duty so that the girl who was there could take her break, I spent 15 minutes collecting cups from mid morning drinks and tidying up in the lounge before other colleagues arrived and we began the process of preparing the residents for lunch. This process involves transferring residents from the arm chairs in the lounge to wheelchair where necessary by means of assisted standing, stand-aids or hoists, and ensuring that all residents who need to do so are assisted in going to the toilet, the residents are then wheeled through to the dinning rooms where lunch is served.

At 12:20 I again teamed up with Chrissie in order to take food from the kitchen to those resident who remained in their rooms, as Chrissie was more familiar with the residents in the unit she said that she would run trays to those who are able to feed themselves and would point me in the direction of the residents who needed to be fed. I fed three separate residents returning to the kitchen to dispose of dirty plates ect and collect the next meal in between each client. Following this I went round the unit to ensure that all dirty plates and utensils had been collected and returned those that I found to the kitchen.

At 13:20 I assisted other colleagues in wheeling those clients who had finished eating through to the lounge from the dinning rooms and transferring them into arm chairs at 1:50 I was asked by a senior member of staff to cover lounge duty for 10 minutes while the designated member of staff finished her lunch break. This involved sitting with the residents in the day room as they went about their activities, ensuring that they were all safe an comfortable.

At 14:00 hours, the end of my shift, the designated staff member came to take over lounge duty and I headed to the staff cloak room to collect my belonging, on my way out of the building I was stopped by the training manager who wanted to discuss some continuing professional development training courses with me and after a discussion with her I clocked out and left the building at just before 10 past 2. I then walked down the road and caught the bus at 14:35 arriving home shortly after 15:00.

So there you have it one half day in the life of a care assistant which from leaving the house to returning home took 8 hours, and yet there are still people who maintain that care in an easy job and anyone can do it.

My next shift is Sunday, as I know have 3 days off in a row, and I as I will have to fill in this stupid shift diary again you can expect a Part 2 which will demonstrate the work that I do in a full day (12 hour shift) on my own unit.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

I love/hate my job

Its been a while since I've blogged this is largely because I've been exhausted by my new job. The job in many aspects is great I love helping people, I find working with the residents really rewarding and I'm building a rapport with many of them, and getting used to their individual quirks and foibles, most of the residents are very easy to get along with, of course there are one or two who can be incredibly annoying but that just adds to the challenge, many of the residents are always telling me what a lovely girl I am and how grateful they are for everything I do for them. So yeah I love my job helping people with the little things that most of us take for granted, which they can no longer do for one reason or another. Working with the elderly is challenging, many of our residents have dementia to some extent, which means that we have to constantly reassure them that they are alright, telling them where they are and what is happening around them so that they do not become distressed. It also means that many of them need some semblance of routine in order to slow their degeneration.

Whilst I love my job and the residents, I hate where I work there is far too rigid a routine, especially for a home which supposedly prides itself on offering person centered care, there is a great deal of emphasis placed   on getting tasks completed and very little on providing actual care for the residents, everything is rushed and there is no time to spend talking to a resident or helping them with something specific they need help with. A number of the staff don't really seem to care about the residents and are more concerned with making sure they can rush out on their break rather than ensuring a resident is comfortable or assisted to the toilet etc. There is also so much bitching and backstabbing in that place I can't stand it, the people I work with constantly bitch and whine. I have recently found out that some of my so called colleagues don't like working with me because they think that I'm slow at doing things, this is because they rush residents in every aspect of their lives, be it dressing or assisting them with feeding, they rush everything and if you allow residents to actually do something at their own pace then you're apparently too slow. It also doesn't help that I'm still learning, I've not done elderly care before and I am still supposed to be on my induction where I'm working with another member of staff at all times, this has rarely actually happened, the induction has been terrible and I feel that there has been very little support from those who have been there for sometime in establishing myself in my role, don't get me wrong there have been one or two of my colleagues who have been very supportive and I don't think I would have lasted this long without them but the support is very sporadic and at times I feel like I'm expected to be a mind reader and anticipate what has been done and what still needs to be done as communication at my place of work is pretty much non existent.

While I love my job and my residents, I don't know how much longer I can put up with the bitchiness, the lack of teamwork, the absence of  communication and  the frankly substandard level of care which some of my colleagues provide. I have decided that I am going to try and stick it out for 6 months which gives me until the end of January and if I still feel the same way then I will be looking for a new job and handing in my notice. A lot of the current staff have either handed in their notices or have applied for other jobs and will be handing their notices in as and when these new applications come to fruition, so hopefully if they leave and we get some new staff who are more concerned with the actual provision of care, rather than rushing to meet set times for the completion of task which have been imposed by the staff themselves and in no way reflect the diverse needs of the residents for whom we are responsible.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

New Job Jitters.

Over the past week I have done my induction training  for the new job, it was all stuff that I've been taught to do time and time again but a refresher on these things never hurts. The training in itself wasn't difficult and I'm confident that I know what i'm doing when I get my start date, however the training period did worry me somewhat in terms of wondering how well i'm going to cope with going back into a work environment. I've been unemployed now for 2 years and prior to that I was only working for 5-10 hours a week ( I was doing 40 hours a week at uni during that time but thats not exactly the same as working as things are far more relaxed) whilst I have worked full time hours at the supermarket where I worked before uni and during the holidays this is my first proper full time job. Once my CRB, ISA and references have all come through I'll be working 42 hours a week which is going to be a significant change to what I am used to and it's going to mean that things within mine and Sheldon's home life and its going to take some getting used to for both of us, it'll be a challenge but I'm sure we can manage it.

I am somewhat worried about leaving Sheldon at home alone, I'm sure that he'll be fine, he's been stable on his meds for quite sometime now, but there is still the possibilty that he could have a bad depressive/manic phase at anytime really, that a bridge we'll have to cross when we got to it. Apart from that he's working on his grade 8 piano and doing 120 credits towards his degree this year so he'll have plenty to keep him busy and we have our meds arranged with an alarm on his phone so he knows when to take them. While I am going to be working 42 hours per week I'll only be working 3.5 days as (just in most cases within healthcare these days) I'll be working 12 hour days. This doesn't bother me, It means I'll have plenty of opportunity to spend time with Sheldon and my friends, and will have weekdays off so we'll still be able to go out and do things during the week when they're cheaper.

In terms of the job itself I know that i'll be fine doing the day to day tasks which I have to do, they're all things which i have done before and I will have a mentor initially to assist me in getting used to just how things run in this particular homw, as everywhere is slightly different. My only real worry is finding my way around the home an it is much larger than any I have been in before and some what labyrinthine in its layout, it'll take sometime, but I'm sure that I'll get my head around it sooner or later. So now its just a case of waiting while they dot the is and cross the ts paperwork wise and then I will know when I have to start changing my day to day habits in preparation for returning to the world of work and my first full time job.

Wish me luck

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Employed at last.

The assessment centre went ok, but I wasn't what they were looking for so it was back to the drawing board and within a week I had two more interviews lined up, this time for healthcare jobs, which is what I wanted to do so I was kind of glad that I didn't get the other job when these interview offers came through. One interview was as a support worker for troubled children and the other was as a health care assistant in an independent care home.

I had the care home interview first, that was yesterday, I was at the home for around 1 hour it was fairly standard stuff, fill in this application form and then a one to one interview with the care manager at the home, after which she said that she was happy to offer me a job, I accepted the offer there and then, it was a fantastic opportunity and in the economic climate none of us can afford to be turning down job offers. As I left I was informed that the HR manager would be in touch by phone and in writing to confirm further details. She phoned yesterday afternoon and I have to go in and see her on Tuesday of next week to fill in forms for a pre-employment CRB check, which is standard protocol for anyone in the UK who starts in a health care position, this won't be a problem as I do not have a criminal record and I have passed numerous checks before both in terms or standard and enhanced disclosure. Once that has been sent off to the CRB then its just a case of waiting for the relevant certification to be issued before I can start the job. The CRB is well known for being a somewhat unreliable organisation in terms of how long it takes to get the certification to the applicant and the employer so at this present time I have no idea as to how long it will be before I can start my new job. The average time it takes for a CRB certificate to come through is 3-4 weeks but I have known them take in excess of 3 months before now, so it looks like I'm going to have to play the waiting game for a while, but at least I know that there is a job waiting for me.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Applications, Interviews and Illness

I did fall just short of my target of 40 jobs in the last week in managed to complete a total of 37 applications, which I think is pretty good, I'm not that worried that I didn't manage to reach my target as I still managed to complete a significant number.

Thus far I have recieved positive responses from 8/37 (22%)  of the companies that I have applied too, many saying that my application is being considered, sending out application forms for me to complete, or phoning to request more details in relation to my application/cv. I have also had one, initial stage telephone interview, which I successfully passed, following this interview I have been called to an assesment centre and second formal interview with this company which will take place tomorrow evening, so that is sounding very promising, but only time will tell.

Of the other 29 jobs, I have had 6 negative, responses, either saying that the postion has been closed to new applicants due to an exceptionally high number of applications or that I had not been successful in obtaining an interview at this time, which is a little disheartening, but it is only 6/37 (16%) and at least these people had the good grace to contact me and inform me that i had been unsuccessful rather than just saying nothing.

As for the other  23/37 (62%) I have heard nothing, it's still early days yet so there is still a chance that I may hear from at least some of these people, and for some of these jobs I know that there is still ~ 1week until the closing date for applications so it is unlikely that I will be hearing from any of those before then. I am hoping that I will hear back from at least some of these, but to be perfectly honest, if you are the type of company who can't be bothered to contact people to let them know that they have been unssuccessful, then you're not the type of company that I wan't to be working for anyway.

I know that I said I was going to hit the jobsites hard this week after having the weekend to recouperate, but this is not going to happen, for two reasons, firstly I have the assessment centre and formal assessment tomorrow so I need to spend time preparing for that. Secondly, one of my family has given me some sort of bug so I'm feeling rough at the moment, I have a hacking cough thats keeping me awake at night, a killer sore throat and a big time congestion, so when i'm not preparing for tomorrow night's interview, I will be spending time nursing this illness.

That's all for not, details on how assessment centre goes will follow in good time, but now i'm off to curl up with some throat sweets and degongestants and feel sorry for myself for a bit.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

crazy busy times

I have spent more or less all of the last week tied to my computer trawling through jobsite after jobsite, through countless construction and hi-tech computer things I don't understand vacancies which seem to be popping up left right and centre in the hope of finding something which I may possibly be able to do. After my knock back of early last week I have become increasingly more determined in my search for a job, and in doing so I have had to broaden my search outside of the industries and sectors that I actually want to work in to those that I don't actually object to working in, this does include applying to a local customer service centre which runs a well known online gamblig site, which isn't my proudest moment, but hey it's still better that selling my soul to Steve Jobs.

I set my self a target of finding and applying for 40 jobs before Sheldon and I go to visit my family tomorrow and upto now I have applied for 36 which is pretty good, I may still have the time to hunt down a few more vacant positions to apply for before we have to leave tomorrow, but even if I don't I'm impressed with how well I gave done this week.

I'm looking foward to a weekend away from CVs, covering letters, personal statements and application forms. Hopefully I will be refreshed after the look weekend away from all things job related and I am planning on hitting the jobsites hard again on Tuesday. With any luck I'll start to hear back from some more potential employers shortly and who knows maybe I'll have a job soon and then I wont have to spend any more time searching for jobs. *fingers crossed*