Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Working In Care- Part 6

The residents of the house in Everton had a good life. They went out and about, not only going to daycare, but some went shopping with staff, not just food shopping (although most of this was done using the internet, which saved time and effort as it would be delivered by the supermarket, Tesco, just the same as  for any other customer.) but also to shop for their own things, such as clothes. The lady I supported at the daycare centre in Biggleswade also went to a lunch club which was held several days a week in a church in Brickhill in Bedford, St Mark's. They not only got a meal, served by volunteers, but could play games, such as bingo.  As the homes that the residents had been moved into when Bromham Hospital was closed in the late 1990's had many friends which they had made in the time they had lived at Bromham, it was felt that they would want to continue seeing their friends, if they had for example been moved to a home some distance away from where they lived. Everton is some way from Bedford, perhaps the furthest out from the centre of Bedford, so these lunch clubs were set up so that residents could keep in touch with their friends. There was another one in Harrold, a village the other side of Bedford, which had the same sort of remit as the one in St Marks. 
Now this lady, who was in her 80's, was a keen player of bingo, but if she didn't win she would become very upset. You try telling her that she couldn't always win,  she would get very annoyed, but we are talking about someone with a learning disability. She had an extremely strong personality and was quite wilful if she didn't get her own way, which was quite often. She was obsessed by television soaps, and watched all the regular ones such as EastEnders, Coronation Street and Neighbours. I think she more or less lived her life through these shows and would talk endlessly about the various plots and the exploits of the characters, to the point that I think she thought it was real. We had to time her bed-time to the soap's schedules, and she had to be ready for bed so she could sit and watch one or other of these programmes. I didn't actually have any interest in any soap at that time, so, in order to be able to talk about them I began to watch some of them, which was something I did so that I could interact better with her.
Each year the residents went on holiday. Not always all together as some of them had holidays on a one-to-one ratio with staff as some needed more individual attention. Another lady who lived in the house and well into her 80's, could be extremely stubborn. Well, I suppose if you had reached her age you had every right to be stubborn and difficult. She didn't like going out much and whenever she was asked she would refuse point blank. Although there was one thing that would get her to go out and that was a cream cake and a cup of tea, generally consumed at Willington Garden Centre which is not that far from Everton. Even when it was baking hot in the middle of summer she would insist on wearing her vest and a really thick coat and wooly hat! Try and prise them off her and she would get quite aggitated. When the rest of the residents were told they were going on holiday (to somewhere on the east coast, Cromer I think, but I'm not sure.) she wasn't told and was got ready on the day the mini bus was going to depart. It was quite an ordeal loading all the wheelchairs into the minibus as they had to be put in so that each could be locked using a special device which hooked over the axels and then into a sort of grooved track in the mini bus floor. This meant that the wheelchairs were firmly anchored and wouldn't move about as the mini bus moved along. It could take a good 45 minutes to get all the wheelchairs into the vehicle and loaded using a hydraulic lift on the back of the vehicle.
I enjoyed the days when, instead of merely staying in the house with the residents we took them out and about, for example, to the daycare at St Marks or to the college in Biggleswade. One Sunday when I was on shift we took some of them to Whipsnade Zoo. I have always loved Whipsnade from my childhood, so to have a free day out there, even if I was officially working was something of a bonus. Not that it was an easy day, far from it, as not only did we have to load and unload the client group in their wheelchairs, but we had to push them around all day, which was extremely hard work. We had made up a picnic so that the group could have their meal out but we also had to take all their medication with us as most of the residents were on quite a lot of medication and we had to make sure they were given this at the correct time. This also meant taking their administration charts to make sure it was all given properly and marked off correctly.
Anyway, we arrived at Whipsnade (I seem to recall I drove in my car with another agency carer, so I wasn't in the mini bus on this occasion. Perhaps it was for lack of room or something.) We unloaded the residents and then discovered that we were a wheelchair missing. The gentleman responsible (I'm not mentioning his name. I have not mentioned names on here as it might infringe confidentiality.) was a Senior Support Worker and he should really have checked before they had left Everton to make sure they had everything for an afternoon out with the client group, including wheelchairs. So while we sat in the bus, he went into the zoo to fetch a wheelchair that could presumably be hired for those customers who had a need for one. He returned a few minutes later and it turned out this wheelchair had no straps and the brakes didn't work properly. And who was it had to push this wonky wheelchair for the rest of the afternoon? You've guessed it, yours truly! And it was something of an effort as Whipsnade is not all flat surfaces. There was the possibility that the client who used the wheelchair which I was pushing might fall out without the required straps to hold him in, or the wheelchair might run away down a steep slope and he could have come out in quite a nasty accident. But fortunately nothing of that sort happened. The afternoon was unfortunately cut short when it began to rain, so it was a rather wasted afternoon, and quite a long journey from Everton to Whipsnade then back again.


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