One Year On, One Year Strong

She loves to gossip. It doesn’t seem to matter that I dont know who shes talking about. She just likes the company. 
They have the cutest little pup who we joke has a lesbian crush on me. She goes nuts every time I make a visit and I love it. 
Hes not social. Hes more of a come in, do the job and get out, kind of guy. I’m cool with that. 
Shes got to be at least 90 years old. Lives alone, has visitors from time to time. She really and I mean REALLY loves a good cup of coffee. 

Its been a year. One whole year today that I moved my life to this beautiful little city and started 2 brand new jobs not knowing a single soul. I dont regret one day. And there have been hard ones. Tiresome ones. More importantly there have been really really HAPPY ONES, both in my personal and work life. I’ve gotten to know my clientèle. So much so that there will be a mutual missing as I embark on my well deserved vacation this week! It took a year to get here. One whole week with no obligations.

Sadly my other half does not have vacation time. He caught my cold during his week off (hard AND tiresome times).

Sorry I haven’t been updating a lot. I’ve been working or trying not to boil in this blasted heat. Ill try to get it together by September, but no promises.

Safety First

I laughed to myself as I typed in the title for this post; A post I try to do once a year at this time of year in regards to heat safety. I laughed because I am burnt to a crisp after spending 2 days in the sun with out the proper protection. And the funny thing is is that this happens to me EVERY YEAR. And every year I say, nope, NOT next year. It’s embarrassing. But you know what’s NOT funny or embarrassing? Skin cancer. A very real threat that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I tell you I am PAYING in spades today for my stupidity. Not only do I look like a tomato with raccoon eyes, but I feel like absolute crap.

I like to talk about this not just for OUR safety, but for those we as PSWS take care of. The biggest problem I have in working with seniors in the summer is getting them to drink water. Or any liquid for that matter. Even if you’re not thirsty, I can’t write for words HOW important this is. I’ve seen people faint; become delusional, lethargy and a whole slew of other ailments that could be prevented with one simple trick.

So far this season I haven’t had too many concerns with those that I visit. But EVERY TIME I am there I make a point of emphasizing water, water and MORE water. My clients have told me that drinking a lot is a concern due to incontinence issues. I’d rather a slightly wet pant than a trip to emergency, and once they get that thought through their head they usually comply.

Do any of you have trouble with this as well? If so I’d LOVE to hear your feedback and any tips & tricks you may have.

And remember. Wear sunscreen.

12 More Days!

Good Morning!
I don’t know about you, but I was thrilled to wake up this morning and see SUNSHINE! Yesterday we had wee snowflakes falling down here in Stratford. Pardon me? Unacceptable! I’ll be paying close attention the weather now. Not because I am desperate to always wear sandals – which I am – but mainly because in just 12 days time team apswlife will be walking to raise awareness for Alzhiemer’s Disease! May 28th is the magical day for the Stratford walk and I am so so pumped!

To date, our team has raised $685, that’s $185 more than I had hoped to raise! Not only that, but our team is #2 in raising the most funds in Perth County! Thank you! I am so so grateful to everyone who has been able to support us – whether it be financially, emotionally, morally or in good friendship. Thank you.

In other news, work has been going very well. I have really taken to my new role as a personal support worker in home care. I still remember not too long ago how I was dreading it and wishing I could do anything but. Now I’m content. I adore my clientèle. I love not ever having to work the midnight shift again. Hell, I love not having to work past 10pm!

My mind has been all over the place lately with blog post ideas, so as soon as I can sort those out I’ll be right back here typing away. Now I must go fetch some coffee.

Hope you all have a great day!

(To donate to team apswlife, please click here.)

Update On Life. Sort Of.

Wooooah! It’s been awhile, eh’? Sorry, but I WORK.
No, I’m not yelling at you, it’s not your fault. It’s no one’s fault really, but some days are more frustrating than others. I’m sure you can relate.
So you can imagine that when ever I come across a reading or hear anyone say something along the lines of “well, it’s not like you’re a nurse or anything, you’re ONLY a PSW” it just creams my corn.
Only? You’re right. Why don’t you show me how it’s done. My morning consisted of working with a woman with a brain tumour therefore dealing with several seizures. My client after her had severe Cerebral Palsy. #3 is a woman who I’m convinced hates me because she ALWAYS refuses care and yells at me in her native tongue and tries to hit me – and SUCCEEDED the other day might I add. And lastly – at least for the morning – is a gentleman I very much enjoy visiting and working with except when he’s on the verge of a Diabetic coma & you’re like -_-
So yeah. I’m ONLY a PSW.
Take a look at my buddy PSWHQ’s page here & take a read on the job description of a PSW.

Phew. HAD to get that out.

Secondly, it’s LESS than a month until my team aptly titled apswlife walks for The Alzheimer’s Society to raise awareness and funds to fight Alzheimers! I’m very excited about this & so so thrilled with all the support we’ve been getting to date. Still, if you’d like to support our team, take a looksy over here to donate! Just search for our team, apswlife.

And thirdly, I’m off this weekend so insert happy dance here! 🙂

Stratford Life

Well this is long over due! Every time I told myself “…update your BLOG!” something else always came up. Usually sleep or something related to that activity. Hey. Moving is a big deal! Some of us – not naming names – don’t take it as easily as others. I haven’t any regrets & I am very happy to be here. To be honest, leaving “the big city” wasn’t at all difficult. I don’t miss anything about it other than the close proximity to my friends & family. Yeah, OK fine, AND sushi.

The hardest part about moving wasn’t the actual move. Believe it or not, it was leaving my job. I had to say goodbye to wonderful co-workers & residents. Doing so wasn’t easy as I had no idea what I would find 1.5h away.

I got lucky.

I have been employed on a casual basis at what is turning out to be a wonderful long-term care facility. The units are smaller which means the group of residents per unit PER PSW is also low – yay! I’ve been fortunate to so far work with some lovely gals which have been showing me the ropes over these last couple of weeks.
It’s A LOT to get used to, and just as I was when I was first employed in Toronto, I’m still feeling a tad off. I was in the city for 5 years. I’ve gone back to the bottom of the pile, the newbie. Re-learning and getting to know a whole other world of routines and schedules. I know that once I get used to the ropes things will fall in to place. The good news being is that even though I am casual, the chances of full-time employment is very very good. At least that’s what people keep telling me.

I’ve also been on several other interviews. Stratford is a MECCA for PSWS. There are seniors and facilities of every kind to support said population on almost every corner. Seriously, its unreal. I hope I won’t have to work 2 part-time jobs for long, but c’est la vie.

This is my second weekend working in a row. And it’s a long weekend AND the weather is far too hot for my liking.

Did I mention that my boyfriend & I don’t have air conditioning?

The Future Of The Personal Support Worker

Do we have a future? I think we do. Our profession is constantly taking on more responsibilities delegated to us by RPNs & RNs. The population is aging & will always continue to age and with that inevitably comes illness. Frankly, the job description of a personal support worker isn’t a nice one: we change incontinence garments worn by our clients; we help those who can’t feed themselves by feeding them (sometimes resulting in said meal being spit back to us) and we deal with verbal & sometimes physical abuse from those with (and sometimes without) dementia, just to name a few. So suffice to say people aren’t exactly lining up out the door for our jobs.

Wait. Or are they? Believe it or not they are. PSW programs are becoming more popular and with that the influx of trained workers is constantly increasing. The problem is this: NO ONE is hiring at the rate of PSWs graduating. PSWS are NEEDED but the jobs for us aren’t necessarily there waiting. We’re often hired on a casual or part-time basis to start. As has been painfully stated before, the ratio of PSW to resident is severely disproportionate.

So where do we stand? What’s coming for us?

Come to our conference on April 25th for the details. OPSWA’s President & Founder Miranda Ferrier will be talking about the future of PSWs.

April 25th, Cambridge Hotel & Conference Center
$75 for the entire day including lunch!

For details, please go to opswa.com or check out my previous update here.

ALSO, don’t forget to tune into W5 this Saturday on CTV to see Miranda and OPSWA talk about abuse in LTC.

Gay Seniors Struggling to Find Safe Retirement Housing

Gay Seniors Struggling to Find Safe Retirement Housing

 As a care giver, a PSW and a human being who also has a private life, it is NONE OF MY BUSINESS whether or not a resident of mine is gay, bi, lesbian, transgender or prefers trees. In fact, it is NO BODY’S business except theirs.
This should not impact the care you give these people. This should not affect your thoughts regarding these individuals. A persons sexual preference – whether they are 65+ or not – is not relevant in ANYTHING. Do you get me? This has always upset me and the fact that this is also an issue for people who have sacrificed and seen more heartbreaking things than we can ever imagine upsets me even more.

& They Say That A Hero Can Save Us.

I don’t own a cape but if I did it would be purple. BRIGHT purple, like Grape Crush or the powdered purple juice we all drank as kids. It would go all the way down to my feet and look like I had wings when I run against the wind. Fly I would, high above everyone looking for seniors in need of a helping hand. Diaper change? I’m on it. You’ve lost your shoe? I’ll find it! You hear voices in your room? I’ll scare them off and tell them not to bug you again or they’ll have to answer to me.

Everyone would applaud after each mission and little girls will have dreams about being me when they’re older. SUPER PSW is my name and I am always at the rescue.

Seriously.

Sometimes this is what it feels like. Situations arise that you have no control over and the only thing one can do is pull up their big girl pants, put on the imaginary cape and haul ass.

When you’re used to working with 3 of us super heroes but only 2 show up, it’s like the Joker pulled a fast one on Batman. Or Captain Kirk dissed Spock’s mom. In these situations commanding the Enterprise and gassing up the Bat mobile is the only thing you can do.
Complaining about your work load helps no one and frankly, we don’t want to hear it. The key is TEAM WORK, TIME MANAGEMENT and most importantly: A SENSE OF HUMOUR.

If you can’t laugh in this line of work, you’ll get eaten alive, one soiled extra-large diaper at a time.

If I were a super hero, I’d want to be like Wonder Woman. … and hook up with Iron Man.

Not Everyone Is Happy.

I woke up again. Why. Why didn’t I fall asleep into an endless slumber where no hurt, pain or fear could haunt me again? I don’t want to be here and I don’t know why. It hurts to breath. Food disgusts me. My friends have lost interest in seeing me because I never return their phone calls. Why should I return their phone calls, I am of no use to anybody. I’m a mistake. My parents love me – or so they say – but would I really be missed if I ended it now? God, I wish I had the strength and courage to do just that. But I’m a pussy, a scared little coward who can’t even  end her own life. And who am I to even comprehend the thought that I would be missed? Why am I so damn special? I’m not. I’m broken and I can’t be fixed. I cry without reason. I hurt without physical injury. My whole life is a fuck-up and the world would be a better place without me.

….

That was me 5 years ago.

Scary, isn’t it?

Unless you’ve been through the hell that is depression, you don’t know the meaning of hell. Words can’t describe the true horror that goes through the head of a depressed individual.

I bring this up for several reasons: 1) I am no longer afraid, 2) This IS a big deal and needs to be discussed at length & 3) This affects EVERYONE.

Yep, seniors too.

She wanders the hall looking for her room not realizing that it’s 2 doors down from where she just looked. “I feel like an idiot, I can never remember where I live”. The tears stain her beautiful complexion and I hand her a tissue. “I wish I wasn’t here. I don’t want to live.” This saddens me as I know all too well the feelings she is expressing. A hug comforts her and she softly sobs into my shoulder. “I know how you feel” I whisper in her ear. She looks at me confused, puzzled, as if she thinks I am lying. I don’t blame her, when you feel like this you don’t think anyone understands. “But I do,” I say softly, and something changes in her face. Her eyes are brighter and if I’m not mistaken I think I see a slight smile forming. She knows I’m not lying.

Everyone’s pain is different. When you’re old, everyone you know is dead and you’re not in your own home anymore the fear must skyrocket through the roof. I can’t make it go away, but I can assure you the one thing everyone in this mess wants to be reminded of: You’re not alone.

Sometimes that’s all that matters.

Old People Wearing Vegetation.

A girlfriend of mine posted this on her FB page and the title alone made me laugh out loud. She’s also a large fan of the elderly and works with them on occasion as well so it’s nice that I have a friend to share this bond with. That and Jon Bon Jovi. Sigh.

Seriously, check this out. It’s unreal, and so very awesome in such a bizarre way.

 

http://www.sadanduseless.com/2013/03/old-people-wearing-vegetation/