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The Vacuum - Issue 13 - Wonking with the Community spacer The Vacuum - Issue 13 - Wonking with the Community
The Care in the Community
by Ruth Graham
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Isobel Graham has worked in the Community Care Sector for the past 4 years as a Community Carer and a Support Worker. Her most recent job was with an Independent Living Scheme in Brigton Glasgow.
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RG: Can you describe the job you recently finished?
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IG: I was a Support Worker with was a company called Cornerstone based in Brigton and I was there to provide support for three ladies with their day to day living helping them with shopping, with personal care, escorting them to doctors appointments, taking them on outings and basically helping them to live a good life in the community.
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RG: How was it run?
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IG: It was a privately run company with branches over Glasgow and Aberdeen. It does have links and affiliations to various council departments though. It was an Independent Living Scheme and was probably quite good for the clients but not so great for the staff. Sometimes I felt that I could have done with more support.
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RG: Were you given enough training or were you expected to go in at the deep end?
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IG: We did get some training but I had also done a lot of the training through my previous job so when I came on board my training was up to date.
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RG: Were there many opportunities to help integrate the client into the community?
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IG: In my case, there were a lot of things up and running when I started. Some of the clients were at college which I thought was a good thing. It depended the client's mobility and things like that but I was out and about with the clients as much as possible. We would go to the cinema restaurants social clubs, etc. It was usually ok but it could be hard if they became agitated or excited and we would have to make a hasty departure occasionally. One of my roles was to escort clients to visit their families. My area of work was keeping the client integrated into the community so I did a lotof that. I was also a Community Carer for 7 months with the same organisation and maintaining links with the families was a big part of my job. I found that the families were very warm and welcomed me along with the client when we came to visit. I was only involved with two of the clients' relatives, but it was good in both cases.
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RG: What about the area you worked in - Brigton? Did you feel safe enough when you were walking around with clients who had poor mobility?
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IG: During the day it was ok but if you were doing any activities in the evening you did feel a bit vulnerable.
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RG: Did you get any help from the Nursing Home with taxis or transport arrangements if you were on a late shift?
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IG: Not really I was lucky because my partner used to pick me up a lot when I was on lates. I had to do a lot of shift work and it wasn't very good waiting at that bus stop. Any later than 10 o'clock, and you didn't feel very safe. Usually I finished before that though and when I was doing sleepovers I was inside all night so that was ok.
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RG: Did you enjoy the job or could you suggest any improvements to it?
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IG: When I first started I was excited about being a Community Carer but I found it very demanding because you weren't given enough time. You went from working with one client straight on to the next one usually with no more that 10 or 15 minutes in between to adjust. It was very intense. Some of them had severe learning difficulties, some had challenging behavioural problems, others had physical difficulties, some used wheelchairs and some were fully mobile and some had mental health problems. They had a big range of individual needs. Sometimes I would be interacting with a fully mobile client who could communicate well then you would move on to somebody who had profound learning difficulties and maybe no way of communicating vocally. It was hard to make the adjustment when you weren't given time to clear your head properly in between clients. I would be coming back from the cinema with a client in a wheelchair who couldn't communicate vocally and would have to go straight out again with a client who only had mild learning difficulties. I was actually relieved to be a Support Worker again as I didn't have so many different clients to deal with and I had more time to build up proper relationships with them. The worst thing about the job was the distance I had to travel I was traveling from the North West of the City to the East End by bus and I think that took it out of me a lot. It added an hour and half each day onto my working day so that was my main grievance.
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RG: You are starting another Care job soon?
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IG: Yes, and this one is much closer to where I live so it will cut down on the traveling time. Before doing any kind of care work now you have to do a disclosure which involves police checks and everything which can take between 6 and 8 weeks so I'm just having a break till that comes through.
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