Care companies come in all shapes, sizes and qualities. I’ve had excellent experiences, bad experiences and yes ugly experiences. Ugly in the sense of the bad side of human nature, not ugly physically.
I won’t name any companies, although the companies referred to, if reading this will recognise themselves. My first real story will show two sides of things, good and ugly.
A few year ago, we had a care company for a short time, who seemed to be working out fine. Most of the carers they sent me were really nice, friendly, helpful and kind. One day one of the carers managed to catch my foot, while I was in a collapse. I was obviously unable to move it. It hurt a lot, and she was very slow to do anything about it. When Mary heard what had happened, she was understandably upset. The next day when the same lady came back Mary challenged her about it. Instead of listening to Mary, the carer said, “Take it up with the office.” Then proceeded to scribble copious notes about the incident in my care plan. Mary asked her to leave after that rather than do any personal care for me.
A couple of days prior to this event, we had introduced this same lady to therapeutic lymphatic massage. It’s something my previous carers had done every day for me and so we were introducing it to the new company. My first carers were directly trained at Bridgewater College on a specially tailored course. The course was no longer available to my carers. Fortunately, the tutor had allowed the course to be videoed for future carers and one of my carers at the time had volunteered to be the guinea pig for the demonstration. It would take a pretty filthy mind to see this therapeutic massage as anything other than the therapy it was. We hadn’t allowed for how someone looking to get back at us for asking them to leave could twist and distort the facts.
Later in the day of the incident, we phoned the manager of the care company to ask that he didn’t send the same lady back. By this time the carer who had injured me had already returned to the office. Shockingly we were told that they would no longer provide care for me. She’d told the manager, her close relative, as we later discovered, that I wanted sexual massages. We obviously explained the true facts, but he was uninterested in facts and chose to believe the lies told by his family member.
We had given the carer a copy of the training video to look at and learn from prior to doing the massage. She had given this to the manager but neither of them had actually viewed it. Instead they believed their own imagination of what it contained. It doesn’t say much for their imagination. Because when I suggested the manager view it, his response was “I don’t want to watch such disgusting filth.” Rorschach ink blots spring to mind here. In other words, they both imagined what was already in their own minds, which had nothing to do with reality. The worst of it was that Mary had a wedding to go to that coming weekend and they were just cutting us off immediately with no warning. I had no care cover from the next day. That was devastating.
Then comes the good. In desperation of what to do next we rang around other care companies. A fairly new one had started recently in the area. In contacting them the manager not only got everything set up within a couple of days, but she personally did my care while Mary went to the wedding. By the way their minds were not distorted or perverted, they saw the massage course for what it is. A therapy that helps me in my immobility. Every other care company and carer we have had has seen the massage course for what it is, a therapy. None of them have had the distorted view of the other company. I will let you draw your own conclusions from that. If you are curious to see what I am referring to, look up ‘lymphatic drainage massage’ on YouTube. It won’t be identical to the Bridgewater course, but it will give you an idea of what I am talking about and why the manager and carer who thought it was some sort of perverted sex massage have big issues they need to look into themselves.
Most care companies don’t really come into any extreme, they are just average. Like most of us sometimes they fail, sometimes they succeed brilliantly. I have found over the years, that’s true of the companies we stay with. They have really let us down badly at times, not being able to provide cover when Mary had shingles, so she had to do all my care for a few days while she was in agony. But other times they have provided cover over important birthday and wedding weekends and gone well above and beyond expectations.
In reality it’s actually the carers themselves that are the stars in any care company. They are the unsung heroes, the underpaid, over worked and often unappreciated majority. It’s the carers who go above and beyond in helping us, whereas it tends to be the admin which messes up.
Carers are amazing and if I ran the world anyone who cares for people would be paid what is currently paid to those who care for money and vice versa. We live in a back to front world where people are seen as less important than money or things. All the high paying jobs are to bankers and IT experts rather than to those who value and look after people. Where there are large amounts of money being made in care it’s going to franchise owners who came up with national and international franchises for care companies. Next down the pay scale are those who buy a local franchise and manage it. The people delivering care are paid just above minimum wage for doing a largely thankless task. It’s a hands dirty, sleeves rolled up, messy and difficult job, they deal with dementia patients, older people and disabled people like me. They clean up, wash dress, tidy house, toilet people, help with shopping, encourage, act as companions, hoist people, operate wheelchairs, take people on trips out, prompt people taking their medicine, call medical help when they see problems, act as an interface with family and many other small and large things. Yet often they are not appreciated or valued either by those they help, the families or even the companies they work for.
In my ideal world carers would all work in cooperatives sharing the profits and workload. Or perhaps a model similar to John Lewis, a partnership where the boss can never make more than a certain multiple of the lowest worker and everyone is a partner in the business. Rather than the profits heading upwards to millionaires. There would be less paperwork that really only acts as a fallback for litigation and more actual guidance and care. Less repetition of what needs covering and more common sense. Less layers of bureaucracy and more streamlined care. I know it’s easy to criticise and hard to actually fix things, but the answer is not to accept that carers should be low paid and on zero hours contracts. Carers should be valued and well paid, their worth acknowledged. They should be on proper contracts. People who care for people are vital to our society and should be seen as a vital part of it. Believe me if you spent as much time with carers as I do, you would realise what a truly amazing group of people most of them are.
There are many other blogs to explore. Please feel free to comment and if you enjoy them, please click like.
Tell your friends and do use the share buttons.
There is a button on the right if you want to follow me.