Four weeks in and I'm knackered, mentally drained, aching shoulders and tired eyes.
Not because the job is tough, but because I'm using all my skill every day...and I wake up in the night with ideas!
The last week has been a lot of work on the pc. All the planning notes on paper and in my head needed to be united in spread sheets. As anyone in the care profession knows, documentation is necessary and with dementia more so to monitor the progression. Fluid intake, bowel movements, sleep patterns, activities to name a few, all combine to give an overview of the residents. With 40 of them, it takes up considerable time for the carers, support workers, one to ones and nurses. I knew me adding more detailed reviews would not go down well with my colleagues so I had to devise the whole activity process to be as simple as possible. ( I won't bore you with it!) Out went my elaborate plans and in came a more simplified smiley system 😊🙄☹️that came into play to report back on each event. In came clear instructions for activities. Out went complex activities that wouldn't suit the capabilities. In came KISS... keep it simple, stupid! In came spreadsheets and out went my many scribbles as the plan fell into place.
A colour coded weekly activity chart that focuses on covering the residents needs from emotion to physical. Those doing qualifications ( including me) have the evidence in front of them to support their workbook. ( I wonder if they will realise it? ) Everyone has something attractive to look at, visitors included. Spreadsheets rock. At the end of the day, my shoulders ached but next weeks activities are ready to roll and I'm justifiably satisfied. Let's see if I think so at the end of next week!
But what about the residents? I've not spent much time on the units this week. A daily wander to say hi to both staff and residents but not so long spent chatting and learning about the characters. The activities cupboard ( read bomb site) is no longer a dumping ground...it has a padlock. The paperwork done. Birthday banners rescued from one unit and dropped at another ( note to self, give every unit their own banners and balloons), cakes organised for birthdays and talk like a pirate day, ( yes I really get paid for making over 40 cocktail stick sized pirate flags). Reflexology details printed ( national reflexology week) with the addition of the lion massage to the back (puzzled? I'll explain next time) and a new poem written for a leg massage ( Hedgehogs and butterflies made an appearance here) white board and pens ready for national doodle day ( did I say this was working?) then a few hours cutting leaf shapes for a dignity tree for Alzheimer's day....and everything neatly placed in folders for each unit.
A shout out for offcuts of material brought a lovely surprise of some lavender bags from Pat. Given out today, they have already helped one restless resident have a calm day. Staff were naming who would benefit as they admired the handiwork; half of them quickly disappeared into rooms. More offcuts but of a different sort appeared on my doorstep. I asked a printer for a few sheets of card and paper: I came home to three reams! I'd forgotten how heavy print media was but this will give us so much scope with projects. Thanks Lee, I just need to lump it into the motor to lug into work. It stayed in my tiny porch until I'd taken the dog out, he wasn't impressed at the mountaineering!
And so the residents, and this is just today.
I smiled at the pleasure the lavender bags gave.
I shed a tear as friends said goodbye to their friend as they wouldn't be seeing her till next spring. I wondered what changes would have occurred by then. Hugs were given with ease.
Larks and laughter singing along with fellow staff.
Shoulder dancing with David as he whistled a tune: his hands on my shoulders moving me in time to his tune.
Lump in my throats when family thanked me for what I did, I passed those thanks to the carers for I had done nothing.
Learning that Bob at 93 got his OBE for rescuing people in Coventry after being a POW in Singapore for 5 years. Another lump when he told someone that things were better since I'd been there.
Sky the Pat dog. A lovely golden retriever who shows unconditional love. I've never seen such a reaction. Sky appeared and unresponsive residents glowed. Any challenging behaviour went out the window. Gnarled fingers curled into soft golden curls. Smiles, giggles and cuddles. It was amazing to see how something so simple can change a person.
And then ...
The sparky has been in to sort the leccy for the magic table to be fitted ( so excited).