A care worker in a children’s home writes…
Monday: Casting my eye around the staff meeting, I sit puzzled. I have raised two children, travelled the world and had a career for 15 years before working here. Managers who have never had children of their own stick out like sore thumbs, droning on about how they think it wrong for teenage children in our care to be woken with a cup of tea in a morning. Another of my ideas falling flat. There is also a married couple who have never worked anywhere else since leaving school 13 years ago. They back each other against any progressive ideas. My idea of pat dogs is apparently disgusting. No animals in the home, even therapeutic ones.
Tuesday: Here I am again on shift with everyone looking to me for guidance as there is no team leader on today’s rota. I am neither recognised or paid any more than my fellow care workers and yet I am responsible for organising the shift, money and medications. The children are pleased to see me and the other workers are relaxed, saying they are relieved that it is me today.
Wednesday: NVQ training today. I tell the story about how my colleagues and I had been unwittingly working alongside a pregnant member of staff, while caring for highly damaged and emotional children. One carer who voiced concern was then bullied by a team leader into leaving.
Thursday: One child is excited because it is Thursday. Ring Craft day. This is all the child lives for. Yet an outburst at school ends with an immediate sanction: no Ring Craft. The real reason is that one manager believes it is a waste to send out one member of the team with just one child.
Friday: Payday. But there is discontent as we find the hours that we have lost through simply not being put on the rota have not been paid – so some full-time staff have found themselves on half pay. Management are not to be found and do not return calls.
Saturday: A happy house as we make sandwiches for a day out. But the deputy head of care arrives without warning, ordering children to hoover, and clean bathrooms. We are late for the riding and climbing centre. The manager then leaves, forgetting to give staff money for activities. We have to use our own credit cards, which will be reimbursed later.
Sunday: Staff working from 3:30pm Friday to 9:30am on Monday start to flag. Young people are left to have a lie-in during the mornings and few make plans for the day as their ideas are usually rejected. I leave the shift feeling frustrated for the children.