Care work diary: ‘Sometimes I feel as if I’m letting people down even though I’ve done everything I can’

Depression, disputes and paperwork make it a draining week for this anonymous care worker

paperwork
"Whoever thought hot desking was a good idea?" Photo: REX/OJO Images

Monday

Who ever thought ‘hot desking’ was a good idea probably never had to do it. Our job is stressful enough without having to find somewhere to work, carrying laptops and any necessary paperwork with you.

I tend to work from home as I have a study. This does make me feel isolated from my colleagues and trying to get management support for a difficult situation can be problematic as I have to track them down to their hot desk!

I was on leave last week so spend the day returning emails and phone calls.

Tuesday

As part of a hospital discharge team, I cover five community hospitals – some as far as 14 miles away. By the time I have done an assessment visit and attended a discharge planning meeting, half a day has gone.

I spend the rest of the day writing up the assessment, liaising with the family and arranging a service. I negotiate with the disability support officers for times that bear any resemblance to what the service user needs – how supportive is a 10am call to assist someone with personal care and breakfast when they usually get up at 7am? It’s frustrating to have to battle against this due to staff shortages.

Wednesday

I visit a lady who was referred by her daughter as having had 3 recent hospital admissions this year and is self-neglecting. She has a lung disease and is very depressed, stating she wants to go to sleep and not wake up.

She sleeps on a garden chair in the living room with black bin liners to her windows, although she has enough finances to pay for the room to be done. It transpires that due to her low mood she doesn’t care about her surroundings and has panic attacks if she attempts to sleep upstairs.

I spend an hour and a half talking to her about social activities, mental health referral and befriending referral since she is saying she feels socially isolated. She declines all help and, as she doesn’t fulfill our criteria of substantial needs, I’m left referring her to the community matron to visit regarding her mental health needs.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m letting people down even though I’ve done everything possible within our limited resources.

Thursday

I spend the morning making phone calls and appointments for assessment visits.

I go into the office in the afternoon as a team member is going on maternity leave. It’s lovely to get together as a team and to see everyone and catch up on news and to have a moan about caseloads. I print off assessments and collect correspondence that had been delivered to the office for me.

Friday

I’m off to review a lady with the community rehab team. I first met her when she was discharged from hospital and at the time she was so anxious about returning home, she was like a frightened rabbit.

Five weeks later she has totally regained her confidence and former independence, and is a different person. It is lovely to see a success story where our short-term intervention has had such a positive impact.

From there, I receive a phone call from a disability support officer who wants to stop visits for a gentleman who has had a stroke. She feels that she is no longer doing anything for him.

On visiting to review him, I discuss how well he was doing and the prospect of reducing the service, at which point he becomes very distressed. It can be difficult to explain that the role of enablers is to promote independence and not to do everything for them.

I speak to his daughter who is so concerned for her father that she has been off work with stress. As it is mainly his wife – who he was the main carer for until his stroke – who needs the support, it was agreed to increase the calls to the wife to make it easier for him to cope.

All were happy with this solution. A difficult and emotive situation was successfully resolved – only the paperwork to complete now…

Feeling drained and ready for the weekend.

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