Memo for a new month
Is it possible to sack your care providers? I wonder as I send off another Howler. Actually I have stopped bothering with Howlers. It’s all short, sharp and to the point. The service is unfit for purpose.
On Monday I made another complaint after I went in and there was no lunch left out for Nick at all. There was a slab of home-made quiche in the fridge (not mine, I hasten to add but some that my kind neighbour had brought round) and in the communications book I had asked lunchtime carers to put it in a bowl with some potato salad.
I don’t know why this didn’t work but it didn’t. I knew that the member of staff who’d been in at lunchtime was the one who’d been there with the manager the night before and that the manager had been explaining to him how the book worked, but it didn’t seem to have made any difference. It’s not just the book, it’s in the care plan to give Nick something to eat – what is going wrong?
I have been trying to keep really calm and neutral when talking with Nick about the carers because I want him to make his own mind up and not just say what he thinks I want to hear. These days it can take him a while to vocalise how he feels about something.
If he likes them then it doesn’t matter so much about the food or the unlocked doors or the bad timings, I say to myself. But I’ve yet to see any real empathy or attempt at a rapport, especially when he says that the person in question – the one who came in and didn’t leave any lunch – does not listen or try to understand what Nick asks, just does his own thing regardless.
Over the last week in particular, the whole picture has driven me almost mad. It’s been harder and harder to lift my head above the waters and find some point of equilibrium. I feel like just sinking to the bottom of the ocean, curled up like an anemone. But that just won’t do. For a start, who would look out for Nick then?
So I have to find some balance. I long for comfort, reassurance but not the soppy kind, more the vitamin shot that helps you carry on way past what you thought was your burn out point. To believe that I am worth it, as they say in the ads. Some Nourishment for the soul in radical times! That’s what is needed.
By last night things seemed to be settling down a wee bit and I think they are beginning to understand the score. I found a note saying, "Please bear with us as we are only getting to know Nick" which touched my heart and made me feel a bit bad about making such a fuss. Then I thought, hang on! They've been coming here for two months. That's actually quite a long time in social care. Long enough to have understood where the bloody bin bags are by now.
But on Monday I just felt fed up. I don’t feel 100% safe leaving Nick’s care with these guys.
I phoned social services and left a message telling them I was extremely unhappy with his care provision. That there were some serious safety issues needing immediate attention.
There wasn’t anyone picking up but I got a recorded message saying they were very busy helping other callers but someone would get back to me within the hour. I think you might guess the outcome of that one. I called them again a bit later, and then again first thing yesterday morning.
It's Thursday now, and a new month. I've still heard nothing back. Maybe their quota for responding to people in January was full. Maybe safety issues are not a priority at the moment. Maybe I am already on some secret file labelled "Complaining Madwoman."
And maybe - yes, maybe - they are ridiculously busy and overstretched. But it's their job. To uphold the rights of the individual and protect the vulnerable. It surely shouldn't just be down to me and other carers like myself to fight for these things?