lady awake from a dream

My time as a carer; short-lived and bitter-sweet

The title of this post will probably give some indication as to what I’m going to reveal here. Back in October, I wrote about my new role as a carer. I knew it was going to be a tough few months ahead, what with the pandemic, and it being winter. Settling into any new job takes time. I’ve changed my job enough times to realise this much.

What I hadn’t bargained for was the relentless calls from the office asking me to cover extra shifts. Some weeks I’d have multiple calls where they’d be saying they were in a ‘sticky situation’ as they were short-staffed. It really does put extra strain on the people left to carry on, when colleagues are on holiday or sick leave. The past few months I have gone from having bright eyes and glowing skin to now having dull, tired eyes and pale skin.

My energy levels seem to continue while the adrenalin is flowing, but after a shift, I feel drained. Physically to some extent, but largely to an emotional extent. I’ve seen people who are really ill, lonely, confused and scared. They are anxious about when they’ll be vaccinated and see their loved ones again. The only contact they have with the wider world is often with their carer or meal deliveries. They are so grateful for the care I give them, (even though they pay a lot of money for it).

But I often feel like I wish I could do more. The time constraints imposed on us are very unrealistic. Half an hour to wash, clothe, feed and medicate an elderly person is not enough. The 5 minutes travel time is laughable when there are roundabouts and multiple sets of traffic lights to navigate through.

I love seeing my clients and chatting with them. We put the world to rights on almost a daily basis. That side of the job I can handle. It’s the wearing down of my spirit that I don’t like; being almost on-call 7 days a week. My days off still have me glaring at my phone when the office number calls me up.

Last week, I decided enough was enough. I handed in my notice without having another role to move to. I figure as soon as I leave my role as a carer, I’ll need to take on the more important role as ‘teacher.’ I will have to home-school my little bunny since I will no longer be a ‘key worker.’ I’m still on furlough from my one-day-a-week retail job. That looks like it’ll be staying the same until the middle of spring at least.

Since I told the office of my intention to leave (and my reason that it’s so I can focus on my family), I’ve had three different people contact me trying to persuade me otherwise. Another colleague recently left, and they revealed they were asked to reconsider too. It seems the management wants to take your soul when you sign the contract of employment.

I’m tired and just want my life back. So I’m standing my ground. I know nothing will change if I stay, and I will end up regretting being a push-over. I joked with my daughter that she could answer my phone the next time the office calls, and she could tell them, “leave my mummy alone!”

Being a carer is tough. I take my hat off to those nurses and doctors working through this pandemic. They will have sweated, sighed and cried often during these past 11-12 months. A clap just doesn’t mean anything near the level of appreciation we could be showing. Staying at home means more, because it means we care about them and other people. Moreover, that we want to spare anyone else suffering the deathly grip of this virus.

So when I’m no longer ‘caring,’ I’ll still show that I care, by staying home as much as I can, until it’s safe for us to go out freely again.

If you have elderly relatives or friends and want to know more about dementia, visit this site.

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5 comments

  1. Please continue to be careful and know that the best care givers take good care of themselves.
    Be Safe

  2. Unfortunately, this always happens: they load the one who carries this cargo.

  3. Stay at home and take care of yourself and your loved ones.

  4. Oh, what dreadful pressure you were put under LB. I think leaving the job was the only solution in order to preserve your health and sanity.

    Ken Loach”s “Sorry We Missed You” (2919) is a very moving and powerful film about a delvery driver in the gig economy. HIs wife is a carer and I immediately thought of her when I read your description of your work. The film leaves you angry al the way people are treated and put upon.

    Keep safe and well LB.
    CP x

  5. Thank you everyone for your messages of support. I will miss my regular clients but I’m hopeful I may be able to chat to them from time to time if they’re happy to do so. You do form bonds with people quickly in this work. But for my health and my family’s wellbeing I know I have to do what’s right for us. I have a leaving date for later this month. I am working my notice and staying positive for my clients so they get the best care from me. 💜🌈

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