I have carpal tunnel syndrome and I may need surgery, my consultant says. I am relieved to have a diagnosis finally but anxious at the idea of surgery. I am given painkillers and splints to wear at night. I return to work feeling sorry for myself. I plough through a pile of cases almost as tall as me, reading about people who are isolated, poor and having to struggle as we cut their care packages back even more. It is grim reading. I have a job interview tomorrow for a job on one of the Channel Islands. My team wishes me luck and I leave the office misty-eyed.
The big day dawns. I arrive on the island in a plane only slightly bigger than a hair-drier. The weather is glorious. I meet the team, which is small and friendly. I am amazed to discover they don’t charge for any community services. They even have a handy man service, something I haven’t heard of since I first qualified. The interview goes well (I think) and I’m told I’ll hear next week.
I return to work and visit a man who is complaining because we have reduced his care package. He is a proud man, keen to retain his independence, but highly anxious that he won’t manage without his carers. We will talk again in two weeks to see how things are going.
I attend a meeting about home care. Tenders are being made for the new contracts and it’s an opportunity for feedback. One common complaint is that carers are not adequately trained and are given too many service users to cover in too short a time, which leads to rushed visits and, sometimes, missed calls. I start to think about my job interview.
I go to see a woman with dementia who has 24-hour care at home. Her son has been calling our office to demand we don’t send black carers. Her current carer is a bright, animated Polish woman who enjoys her work. The son is not present so I speak with the daughter about his comments and she tells me he is no longer involved in his mother’s care or, indeed, part of the family anymore. It’s the end of what feels like a very long and possibly life-changing week and I spend the afternoon booking case appointments for next week. I also apply for Aids/HIV training as the last course I completed on the subject was in 1992 and it’s time to refresh. As I get in the car I receive a call on my phone. I’ve got the job!