If I had a pound for every time someone’s said to me “you need more help” I’d be rich. It seems like a simple suggestion, but the suggestee has no idea just what they’re asking. For anyone out there who has paid Carers you’ll all know exactly what I mean – having strangers in your home that:
- you get on with
- are reliable
- you trust
- are understanding of your situation and
- do the job well
are very hard to come by. I’ve never had Carers as, even when virtually bedridden, I simply couldn’t cope with the stress. However in the past few years I have had “help”.
When I first got my dog Bertie I realized very quickly that taking him out every morning at the crack of dawn, even on my mobility scooter, was beyond me. So I employed a dog walker. The first one consistently turned up 30 minutes late, which doesn’t sound much unless you know Bert had been stood whining in the lounge window waiting to go out for a poop (which bless him he will never do in the garden). I followed her one day to find her sitting at the top of the lane admiring the view and talking on her phone, not actually walking the dog. She let slip a couple of times that she’d shouted at Bert (who is just the most placid dog you’ll ever meet) and it wouldn’t surprise me if she’d hit him. Then she quit on me before I had chance to sack her.
The next dog walker was a single Mum of 5 kids, one of whom was severely disabled. She seemed nice but asked if instead of doing the Mon-Friday I’d asked for in my advert she could do Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday instead and her teenage daughter could do Saturday. Her daughter would also do the school holidays. It wasn’t what I wanted, but I agreed because she said Wednesdays were usually the days her disabled son had his hospital appointments so I obviously empathized with that.
She quit on me after 8 months as she said she needed something with more hours and had found a job as a home care worker. But she didn’t last a fortnight in the position as she realized she couldn’t fit the extra hours round her kids. So she asked for her job back on the condition I gave her a payrise making the equivalent of £10 an hour………for dog walking. If she’d worked in Tescos she would have been on less than £7 an hour. Oh, and she also demanded the £10 an hour equivalent for her 15 year old daughter when my 16 year old niece was working as a waitress til midnight on £4.60 an hour. I should have told her to get stuffed but was desperate so agreed.
She then started to piss me about. Ringing at the last minute to say she couldn’t come Tuesday but could come Wednesday, or she couldn’t do Friday but she could do Wednesday. Or that she’d be late. Or that her daughter was at her dads for a fortnight during the holidays so I had no-one to walk the dog. I put up with it for 6 weeks on the trot, while my Mum was recovering from her heart attack and I was beyond exhausted and stressed to the eyeballs, then said to her that we needed to have a chat to see if we could sort the situation out as it wasn’t working for me. She threw a hissy fit and quit. Again.
She then tried to get her job back (who wouldn’t, it’s a great little job!), but luckily I’d found someone else. I get on well with the new woman but she has occasionally walked Bert back to her house in the village and let him run round her garden while she’s put her shopping away, or taken him to the playground 500 yards away while her kids play on the swings. Which isn’t what I pay her for.
Two years ago I found a cleaner for my Mum. She was lovely, hard working and I was so impressed with her I asked her to clean for me too. Only as time’s gone on she’s gotten later and later to both my house and my Mums, so that she now turns up nearly an hour past her start time, which means I get an hour less rest. She’s at my house Wednesday afternoons and I have Camera Club Weds evenings which means I actually need more rest that day, not less.
Then there have been several days where she’s not turned up at my Mums at all, the latest excuse was that she lost her engagement ring and she wouldn’t have been able to concentrate til she’d found it. Seriously.
I could only afford to employ her every other week but my Mum has recently offered to pay for her to come to my house weekly so I just assumed she would come every Wednesday afternoon. But that didn’t seem to suit, and she was determined to switch me to Monday morning which for various reasons wasn’t convenient for me. She tried every which way to manipulate me into Monday mornings, even saying she’d move my Mum’s slot which I told her wasn’t acceptable, so she threw a hissy fit. Having a cleaner is supposed to make my life easier, not harder or more exhausting. I politely said that if it was going to be this much hassle I’d just stick to having her every other Wednesday as normal. Only she didn’t want that because I’m guessing she’s already put someone else in my Wednesday slot, so she said “if you feel like that we’ll just call it a day” so I replied “OK then”. FFS!
These people work for me. It’s a job, with agreed hours, start times and job spec. You can’t just turn up an hour late or on the days you have nothing better to do and while you’re in my employment I do expect you to actually do the job I’m paying you for. We’d all love work to just fit round our lives when it’s most convenient for us but sadly that’s not quite how the world operates.
So now I am cleaner-less. I’m tempted to just stay that way because these people cause me as much mental stress as doing the job myself causes me physical stress.
My next door neighbours are in their late eighties and Mr B has advanced Parkinsons Disease. Mrs B desperately needed help and eventually in spring this year was persuaded to have home care from Social Services. It was a disaster. The Carers were supposed to turn up at 8am, but often didn’t arrive til 10am by which time my neighbour had got her husband up, dressed and breakfasted herself. They sent different people every other day who all had to be told what was needed and how to do things and none of whom developed any kind of relationship with my neighbours. Needless to say they put up with the ‘help’ for 3 months then cancelled it because they couldn’t stand the hassle. Mrs B now looks so ill, thin and exhausted from the constant stress and physical demands of looking after her husband we’re all convinced she’ll peg it before he does 😦
I’ve no idea why finding reliable help is such hard work. Whatever happened to work ethic or simply doing well the job you’re being paid for?