As I mentioned in the last post I did quite a few shifts at the house at Everton. I think I seemed to fit in with the other members of staff. As a result I was booked there almost on a permanent basis, which meant that I knew I had a good run of work. The risk with doing any sort of temp work, whether it be industrial or care, is that you can never guarantee you will have enough work, but I was fortunate in that I had obviously made a good impression on the other permanent members of staff to be constantly re-booked for shifts at Everton. I also got to know the client group well which made the work a good deal easier. It had been my intention to get back to doing 'Walk-On' and 'Supporting Artiste' television work, and I was intending to get back to that sort of work eventually, and filling in with care work in between times. There were no major issues with such things as challenging behaviour, not to say that some members of the client group couldn't become quite challenging, but not of the violent type, it was more verbal. It was nice that you could do a 12-hour day, starting as I said in the last post, at 7 a.m. and working through until 7 p.m. and going home. This meant that I could do enough hours in a few days rather than over a seven-day period to make it financially viable. Most days were broken up into three shifts, starting at 7 and ending at around 2- 2.30, and the late shift coming on at that time and finishing at around 9-10 p.m. This was the sort of shift pattern all the N.H.S. homes throughout Bedfordshire used. At Vincent House we had to do night shifts, and these were for around a month. I don't like working nights as I'm a day sort of person and find it extremely difficult to keep awake and then to have to go home and try to sleep when it's light outside is extremely difficult.
Not only did we have the general care tasks to perform in the home, but we had to do the shopping and cooking for the residents and part of your job you could expect to get a meal which you ate with the residents, so that was something of a perk of the job. I seemed to always get the job of preparing this evening meal and when I started my shift I would find myself in the kitchen peeling potatoes and other vegetables and making whatever was on the menu, such as cottage pie, sausage and chips or whatever.
We had to take some of the residents to daycare. I seemed to be attached to one particular client, a lady who went to Biggleswade and to a daycare centre run by Barnfield College, a sort of 'outreach' from the Luton college and a centre in Queen's Park in Bedford. She was in a wheelchair and another member of staff drove us there early in the morning and she was involved in such things as basic money-handling, personal care and drama. I was in my element with the drama part of the classes, with my background in stage management and puppetry really being put to good use. Every year the clients did a play, and it was quite amazing that people who in general had real issues regarding speech and communication could stand up on a stage and put on a show. There was a real sense that they were overcoming their problems by doing these shows. I helped with such things as scene painting and general running of the shows. These shows were watched by quite a lot of their friends and relatives and they were assessed by teachers and tutors and from this the clients were awarded certificates which were presented at a ceremony at the end of the year.