Diary: a care worker in a nursing home writes


I worked the weekend so do the afternoon shift today. This usually involves bringing around the tea trolley, playing games with residents in the lounge and organising trips to the town or local places of interest. But because we’re short staffed only a few residents get the chance to go out each day. There’s evening tea between 5-6pm, soft drinks, biscuits and sandwiches the cook is only in for lunchtime.


Arrive for 7.30am – if we’re 15 minutes late we’re docked half an hour pay. Have a handover with the registered nurse who tells us how the residents were during the night and any medical problems. The afternoon’s routine is disturbed when a kitchen inspector turns up. One of the other staff explains kitchen and hygiene routines to her, which prevents the rest of us from doing anything with the residents apart from the basics. But we receive a five-star rating for the kitchen – although I suspect not the cuisine!


The hairdresser comes in and does one floor each week. The residents look forward a bit of pampering and a change of routine. But the cost is on top of the fees and some families won’t pay for it. This means that the care staff have to do it when bathing the resident more time spent on one resident and less on the others. After tea we begin to prepare residents for bed, which continues until 10pm.


There is a scare in the afternoon. One resident who has early onset dementia disappears. We search high and low, cursing our luck that the day he finds renewed strength is the day that his wife and children are due to visit any minute. Eventually we find him sitting in a toilet in one of the female resident’s rooms. A quick wash and he is returned to his loving family.


Night shift 9pm to 7.30am. There is no handover and only one care worker on each floor with a registered nurse. We have to change all the residents pads at about 2am and check every couple of hours. The rest of the time I spend drinking coffee. We also have to do all the laundry on the night shifts.


I am supposed to have the weekend off. Spend most of Saturday in bed recovering from the night shift and the aches picked up from lifting and moving people all week.


I am going out when the phone starts ringing, I don’t answer because I am sure it’s the nursing home wanting me to go in and do an extra shift. Sorry, I need a break so leave and let the phone ring.

This diary appeared in the 26 June issue of Community Care 

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