Break It Down. Part I

Ugh. Is it 5am already? I feel like I just went to bed, yet some how 8 hours have already come and gone. I guess I should get up. Get dressed, brush my teeth, basically attempt to look presentable for the day. At 5:20 I leave the house after double, sometimes triple checking that I have everything. … Oh, and there goes the bus. Lovely. Luckily for me the bus I take runs every 10 minutes so it’s not a big deal. It’s pretty cool outside, I can feel fall approaching. Such a warm and friendly season, despite what the actual temperature is.

Crap, I did it again. Thank God for friendly strangers at 6am otherwise I would’ve taken the bus back home again. This isn’t the first time I’ve fallen asleep on the bus. I almost always miss my stop on the way home, which is no biggie as I can just walk home from the bus depot. I take the best naps on the subway. There’s something about the sounds and the motion that just knock me right out. Weirdly enough, I’ve never missed my subway stop. I think I just jinxed it. Before catching my connection to go northbound I stop for a coffee. Coffee is a must. Without coffee my job suffers and the people around me suffer.

It’s still crisp outside but the sun is slowly showing herself. Luckily I have my sun glasses as I’m walking eastbound and the sun in my eyes is blinding. Crap. I just dropped my coffee. What the hell did I trip on?! It’s not my pants… or my shoelaces. How I love Toronto streets. Back up! I forgot my newspaper! I don’t actually enjoy reading the news, but I do like the puzzles. They come in handy when I’m on my break.

What’s my password again? I do this all the time! Maybe I have Alzhiemers… shut up Stef. This stupid machine never recognizes my finger so I have to punch in atleast 3 times. I have time, about 15 minutes worth. I always get to work early because it’s important to get a report from the nightstaff. This is where you find out if any resident’s were sick, in hospital, have had falls, etc. When there’s nothing new to report it’s a good thing. No change – for the most part – is good news. This elevator is slow. It’s weird how I have enormous amounts of patience for my residents but when it comes to an elevator I want to  my hair out.

Ah, this is a nice surprise. I like walking on to my unit and seeing one of my residents already dressed and in the dining room. The nightstaff aren’t required to get them up and dressed, but on occasion we do eachother favours. In this particular case it was because he had soiled himself and the bed linens needed to be changed anyway. Either way, that’s one less person for me to get out of bed, so I like it. I have 9 residents that I am in charge of. 5 of which need my help in the morning, so when one is done for you it helps a lot. There are 3 PSWs on in the morning, and we have 1.5hours to get almost 30 residents out of bed and into the dining room for breakfast. We run a VERY tight ship.

First thing’s first. I have my report, everyone is doing fine, so now we load up our carts. We have towels, we have bed sheets, we have blankets, wash cloths, peri cloths and padding. It’s like your the maid in a hotel, running from room to room to see how the guests are doing. .. Sort of. After I have my linens, I get my diapers. We have different sizes, for different people for what I think are obvious reasons. I also get my creams, my lotions and my soaps. Yep, this is a hotel cart. Next is my dirty linen cart. One bag is for bedding and towels, another is for peri cloths and pads, lastly we have a bag for personal laundry. I take this with me from room to room, up and down the hallways as I provide my morning care.

My first resident is a peach. I’m biased, I think they’re all peaches, but she is specifcially sweet. When you get to know the people you take  care of, it’s much easier to work with them. I try to spend 15 to 20 minutes max with each resident. Sometimes I can do things in less time, other times it takes longer. Every day, eventhough the same, is still different. People’s moods change, sometimes they don’t want to get out of bed for breakfast and that’s fine. The only time we serve in bed is if someone is sick and they cannot come into the dining room. Having everyone on tray service would be next to impossible as there are only 3 PSWs and someone needs to be in the room with the resident while they are eatting.

Alright, we’re done number one. Moving on. As I move on I pop into other rooms to see  if people are ok or if my co workers needs a hand. TEAM WORK IS KEY!!! I cannot stress that enough.

Good grief, what do we have here? You’re not in bed, you’re wandering around in the dark, let me help you. Sometimes residents get disoriented and forget where they are, so you have to remind them. This person in particular is not happy, so I sit them down and we have a chat. What is going on, I ask them.

Imagine this. You’re used to going to the washroom whenever you want. You have control of your urine and bowels. Except for this one day, you let lose without even knowing.  For some reason, you just couldn’t hold it and now you’re soiled. You’re embarassed, you’re scared, you’re ashamed and you don’t want me anywhere near you. Hell, I don’t blame you. But this happens.

I proceed to tell them a story of how I was on my way home from work and I thought I was going to pee myself in the elevator. I may have exagerated a little bit, but I wanted to distract her and make her laugh. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! After calming her down, we got dressed and I walked her to the dining room. This will be our little secret? I promise.

Almost done, 3 more to go and it’s only 7:45! I love being a head of schedule. Luckily for me, the next 2 I attend to only require a little assistance and not total care.  I encourage anyone who can help themselves to do just that. Not because I don’t want to help, but being independent – at ANY age is extremely important.

It’s 8am. Almost there. One more to go. And the last one is always a little harder. I managed my time, and I knew that the last resident I would attend to would be the most difficult so I gave myself that extra time on purpose. They don’t have dementia so their disposition is very pleasant. My issue with this one person, is that they like to sleep. Waking them up is like pulling something out of quicksand. Get up! .. No, I’m not rude. I gently remove the blankets because this one particular resident enjoys sleeping in a sauna so I know the cool air will wake them. Look at that, I’m right! They’re moving! …. like molases. Relax Stef, you have time. I assist her to the washroom and help her wash and get dressed. Only after I put in her hearing aid does she realize I’m talking to her. Duh.

Is it breakfast yet?

 

 

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