This week’s writer is the deputy head of care at a residential school for deaf children

The 10-hour shift starts at noon. Staff check their mail and memos, and
complete previous weekly logs for children. In the team meeting at 1.30pm we
talk about a barbecue planned for year 11 pupils who are leaving. As it’s been
raining for months we discuss alternative arrangements. Then staff supervision
and NVQ training details are finalised. At 3.30pm we pick up pupils from
school. Their bags are unpacked and checked for age-appropriate videos and
computer games. At 4.15pm secondary pupils return to residence. Tea is followed
by homework hour and bedtime between 8pm and 9.30pm. It’s one of the most
stressful parts of the day. My weekly headache begins.

Split shift starts at 6.45am. Breakfast gets pupils ready for school and I make
a doctor’s appointment for one child. Team debrief at 9am. Staff are tired and
some children are excited about the holiday at the end of the week. Off duty at
10am; back on at 3.30pm. Liaise with school and teachers, pick up primary
pupils and try to be objective about reports of their behaviour in school.
Pupils watch videos and play games. The evening goes fairly quietly. Pupils are
getting excited about the barbecue and year 11s are becoming more stressed
about exams and leaving. Sleep in again and find it difficult to relax. Still
raining, but hot.

Hardly slept last night and was woken early by some children playing. Split
shift starts again at 6.45am. After the pupils go to school, tempers fray
because of organising the barbecue and trying to cover staff shortage. Weather
is still changeable but barbecue gets the go-ahead. Pupils complain they have
to do their homework before barbecue – as if they would do it afterwards. It’s
a great success. Is it due to my cooking? Wonder how many will suffer from food
poisoning tonight. Kitchen staff make a huge cake for the year 11 leavers and
some decide to throw it at each other. Yet another sleep-in. It’s made easier
by the announcement that a new staff member will join after half-term.

Tiredness really kicks in. Some staff are uncommunicative and others have just
had enough. The team debrief gets shorter as they find it difficult to think of
things to say. Two pupils have been fighting and have scratches. I contact
school staff and their parents, who are more understanding than their teachers.
Go home between shifts and vegetate. Evening shift goes well. Sleep in my own
bed for the first time this week.

All pupils pack their bags this morning. It’s an emotional day for year 11s and
some staff members. By 10am we have worked 42 hours since Monday and been on
sleep duty for three nights. At 10am I say my goodbyes and go to my partners
for the week. My headache miraculously clears.

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