I can’t be bothered to contemplate for the fact that I am unemployed. I don’t have any job, I don’t have anything to do to gain money out of something. I have worked in England. I can say it is my first job though I worked as an Ophthalmology Nurse at The Lasik Surgery Clinic at Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Alabang, Muntinlupa City. I love being a Nurse. I love how I execute what I have learned in my 4 year course in college. I graduated in 2008 and proud to say that I passed the board exams in November 2009.
I loved the feeling of working in the Theatre or commonly known as the Operating Room. Everything is clean– Sterilized. Everything is in order. Everything is in place. I had to leave my job, I resigned before I left for London.
It was January of 2010 when I became an employee of St. Vincent’s Care Home at Hammersmith, London. Four floors, 24-26 residents in each floor. The first week was my Induction or commonly known as ‘The Orientation Week’. Irish and I were the only Inductees. We were relaxed and felt like Ms. Carmina, the Deputy Manager, was just having casual talk on how things work at St. Vincent’s. My post? Health Care Assistant. Nurse? not.
|Me, Clarissa, Ambika, Malini, Sunita smiling for the camera. They asked how much we got the camera for.|
|Ambika’s ID photo smile.|
|Jerome and Mariusz: Smile boss!|
- Residents – Dementia/Parkinson’s Dse. Patients, Confused Patients
- Handover – Endorsement of residents
- Saturn – computer generated daily progress notes done by each Care Assistant.
The Long Day Shift (0800-2000) goes like this:
- Handover – Discussion of each resident’s behaviour throughout the night shift.
- Serving of breakfast – encourages all ‘able’ residents to walk their way to the dining room, feeding for the bedbound residents
- Personal Care – changing of wet pads, bedbath/showering of residents, dressing them day clothes, walking them to the lounge area.
- Serving of morning tea – tea time while the residents are watching the telly in the loungeServing of lunch – walks the resident to the dining room
- Serving of afternoon tea – done in the lounge
- Afternoon Personal Care – changing of pads, changing day clothes to night dress/ pajamas.
- Serving of dinner – walks them to the dining room
- Daily Progress Notes – done in the computer
This routine seems so easy to do. Systematic. Attainable. Ideal.
The Night Shift (2000-0800):
- Serving of tea
- Personal Care – changing of pads, putting all residents to bed.
- Hourly checking
- Personal Care – changing of pads in the morning, washing and dressing 5 residents.
- Daily Progress Notes
Five Carers work for a day shift, 2 carers for the night. 24-26 residents to look after to. Everything was ideal to me at first. I know I can get along by and by. I knew I will wipe poo, definitely. I wasn’t prepare to see other problems than looking after confused and dementia patients. The story goes on.
I made friends. You get to befriend your partner or your colleagues and everyone else in the workplace even the ‘Domestic’ staffs or the floor cleaners. I got along well, some of us talk the same language, Tagalog. I wasn’t ready to criticisms, rumors, back stabbing workmates and the massive ‘crab mentality’ amongst the people employed at St. Vincent’s. I would rather forget what all have been said to me, their impressions and opinions, their little learnings about me, and that I tend to disregard. It was during those days when all ‘Pinoys’ at work felt like family to me, tanginang yan! They would ask how your life has been before you went to work abroad, where you from, what you do. They scrutinize you then spread your bio to everyone/ all ‘Pinoys’ at St. Vincent’s. I don’t know to hell where this initiation came from but typical ‘chismosa’ attitude of most Filipinos. I can admit that I am ‘chismosa’. But most of the time, I talk about celebrities’ life stories, not any lives of my friend or workmate. I don’t want to talk much about each and everyones struggle in life because I don’t want them to talk about me too. Why? Because I am not a celebrity!
I feel so bitter about treating them as my family, Jeremiah, Tita Glo, those people who gave opinions and comment to the least time I needed it. Foul words, maniac and ‘kalsada’ terms to which I would ask myself WHERE ARE THEIR VALUES? It was hard to work with them intellectually. I felt like I am always ‘nangangapa’ on how I would behave myself infront of them. I am not saying I wanted to please them but atleast, they won’t see my faults. They have been masters of the game in the care home, they memorize the easiest ways on how to change pads in split seconds. They were experts to being quick… quick to gossips. To oral defamation of other ‘Pinoys’. They feel elated when they say something new, or the latest struggle of someone we know. tangina nila. Theres KARMA.
Much of the bitterness, I swear to myself I will love my job. I know the Nursing Process. I love to take care of sick people. Not when I dealt with the Dementia Patients. I was very positive to get back to Health and Medical field. I love learning new things. But things changed as time went by. I did night shift for my entire working career at St. Vincent’s, though sometimes I do day shifts for overtime. 12-hour duty is no joke. It breaks your back, literally.
”Hinding madaling mag alaga ng matatanda, lalo na kung may Dementia sila. They would act weird as in to the point of calling them ‘Tangahin’. They forget everything, even sitting down or how to chew their food. They are worst. Dementia is a degenerative disease kasi. Sa madaling salita, parang kinakalawang na ang mga brain cells nila kaya diskargado ang nerve impulses nila kumbaga. ” -JCL
I was challenged, I swear I lost my self-esteem. I never felt so useless and incompetent for being just a Care Assistant. I could not do any Nursing Diagnosis or an Intervention to alleviate each and every residents’ issues. Why? That is beyond my duties. But then, I continue to get along. I remember the first few days when I was only doing 2 nights in a week. I would give it a deep breath whenever I enter the door of St. Vincent’s. I alway say ‘punas tae nanaman’ at the back of my mind and then I pray. No miss, that was my Monday and Tuesday routine.
I pray. I pray not to earn big but I pray to God for Him to make me feel better. I talk to Him and tell Him, ‘Lord, help nyo po ako tigasan ang dibdib ko ngayong gabing ito..’ Those were the hard days for me.
Sometimes, I know I have been harsh to some residents. They take away all the goodness in me when they start to play with their pads, plays with their poo, gets off to bed, and when they shout at night. I had patience but it wasn’t too big to be passive all the time.
”Minsan nagtitimpi ako, lalo na sa gabi, 2 lang kaming carer. Ayokong saktan ang mga residente ko, nakakaawa sila. Pero paano mo sila hindi sasaktan, kung papalitan mo na sila ng pad, e hahawakan nila ng mahigpit ang panty nila para hindi mo matanggal. Hahawakan nila hanggat kaya nila. Maghihilahan kami para matanggal ang panty nila, para mapalitan ang pads nila. Marami sa kanila, may rayuma. Matitigas at irregular ang korte ng mga kamay nila. Mas mahirap makipaghilahan. Habang hinihila mo ang panty at pads nila, sumisigaw sila sayo at kinakalmot ka. Isang residente pa lang yan. Paano pa yung natitirang 24? May energy at pasensya pa ba akong maibibigay sa kanila?” -JCL
”Minsan, umasa ako na kahit gaano sila pasaway, pwede ko silang kausapin, tao pa rin sila.
Pumasok ako sa kwarto ng isa naming residente:
Me: I’ve changed your pad already, please I’m begging you don’t pull your pad out please. *combs her hair with my hand*
Resident: *she started crying* You’re such a lovely girl, you’re my lovely girl. You’re the only one who is like that to me here.
Me: No, it’s okay you rest to sleep just please don’t pull your pad, okay?
Resident: *continues to cry* Thank you, you’re such a lovely girl.”
Those are some stories that breaks my heart. These British people find themselves under the hands of uncommitted individuals. Most of us worked after the pounds we gain, some take it by heart. Some residents are rude, they would swear us all ‘Fuck you’s they could ever say at the top of their lungs. They would kick us, throw us their poo, they would scratch us and hit us in the face. They are aggressive and they are not aware of it. We were paid big to absorb all their clumsiness. Their dirts and the dirt of their mouths. Sometimes, I’m bad to swear at them back, I shout to them TANGINA MO RIN! Not to really mean it but to elevate my personality and emotions for calling me ‘bitch and bloody whore’ for just changing their soaking pads. The job will always put your self-worth down if you will always absorb what other people will tell you. I was closed to working at hell. It was indeed the dirty-job.
Honestly, I pity them. They were brought by their family to the Nursing Residential Home where people were not caring enough to look after them whole heartedly. Some are visited weekly by their families, even their great grandchildren come to see them. Some, were abandoned. Some of them does not have any families for they have all passed away. Some grew old single, her friends will benefit for her death. Some of them were pumped up with lactulose so their poo will be regular but they tend to get the side effects of too much lactulose so they have watery stools, it leaks through the bed sheets. So leaked sheets needs to get changed. Another workload. Some does not sleep at night, he walks the entire shift asking us where to go. He asks us every 5 minutes. Some shouts ‘Mommy’ til the morning light. Some can’t get out of the bed, they get bedsores. Some does not have any skin creams, their skins break down the entire bum gets swollen red. They swear alot, feeling the pain of the disease. That’s Dementia. That’s Dementia in England. That’s how it is to look after the British people. That is how hard to earn pounds.
I can say I am successful for living in London for quite some time, for earning and surviving. But when you ask me if I am fulfilled, I would be honest to say that I am not. I did not abide to the Nightingale’s Pledge, I hurted my patients. I became impatient. I felt I had much of Dementia than them. I had the disease that which my mind was degenerated on how to have a caring and a loving heart. I had Dementia because I swear back and hurt them physically. I was confused of what purpose God has given me. I will never forget that job, the workplace, and all the things linked to St. Vincent’s Care Home.
The Florence Nightingale Pledge
I solemnly pledge myself before God and presence of this assembly;
To pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully.
I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous
and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug.
I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession
and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping
and family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling.
With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work,
and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.
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