With the publication of my book, I continue to write each week for the local blast paper. I love sitting down and putting my fingers on the keys and letting the spirit speak through me. This said, there are times when I feel I must mitigate what my higher self thinks and says to my heart. Not that it is anything sinister or unbalanced, it may be seen as unbecoming for my employers or those I work with. I struggle with a system that is so broken and unless the ship starts to turn sometime soon I will never see change in my lifetime.
I love working with the elderly. Some might consider me in that cohort being I am now in my 60’s. When I work with people in their 90’s I think where was I 30 years ago? And then I look 30 years ahead. I have much living to do yet. I work with people who have lived lives in so many different directions. They all come together in the end looking for care and there you have it, how do you care for so many different people in so many different ways?
What do the elderly look like in my work? Let me see if I can put it into words without sounding judgemental or demeaning. I am compassionate and caring for all people, yet every person under my care requires a different me to serve them. Some have cognitive abilities, keen and opinionated. Some are unable to string a sentence together because the mind no longer allows this skill. Just this week my daughter said her two year old was putting four words together. “Where did mommy go?” On the same day my grandson strings together four words, I stood with a woman who did not know how to pull down her pants to sit on the toilet. She is continent (can hold her urine and feces) and can void over the toilet. She just does not understand the process anymore.
My other grandson knows to talk into the remote to watch is favourite program. “Paw Patrol on Netflix” and voila, there is his show. On the same day I helped a competent, cognitive woman who had just returned from hospital find Wheel of Fortune because there were over 800 channels at her disposal and she was lost as to how to find it.
At each end of the spectrum we teach and assist those we love. I love the people I work with. What I don’t love is the system I work in. Just this week I was denied my paycheck and when I went investigating I was told “no one told us you worked here”. This was after I had worked five shifts. The HR person spoke to the accounting person and they both blamed the director of care. Regardless, I was made to feel it was my fault somehow because I had not filled in the appropriate paperwork. At no point did anyone say “I am sorry” for their incompetence, or their poor processes. Nor did they make it right other than to tell me I would be paid in full the end of the month. What if I had children to feed? What if my rent was due? I worked in good faith, is it not expected they should offer the same good faith?
Our system for caring and employing people is broken. Fully and completely broken. Angry people are now just showing up because eventually they do get paid, however, everyone is watching their own behind, like in the case of my lack of pay. No one wants to be accountable in a broken system.
What’s the answer? I truly do not KNOW the answer however what I see as a path we could take is cooperative housing for small groups. Pod style living where there is a common ground and a central hub and yet a small enough group to be personal and hands on. There seems to be a shortage of care providers and yet so many people love working with the older adults. When a worker is respected and loved they will love in turn and be lining up to work for a system that values and cares for them. A system that ensures one gets paid on pay day and appreciates each person for who they are.
Simon Senek says “people do not buy what you do, they buy why you do it!” When the “why” is answered everyone is on the same page. Large corporate structures have the “why” or the mission plastered all over the walls alongside the resident’s rights however there is a disconnect when it comes down the teaching and performing chain.
This blog may be disputed, I hope it is! Prove me wrong. Tell me I am full of it and that I don’t know what I am talking about and I will listen. Better yet, contact me if you are an investor and let’s see how we can build a new way to care for the elderly … let us live many questions and find the “why” and live it out in day to day living.
Next to come a discussion about food ….. the elderly and the slop they are fed!