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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

I am sorry. I love you. Please forgive me. Thank you.

A week after my new job offer came in, the initial euphoria is starting to wear off as reality kicks in and I realise that it might be quite some time until I am finally able to leave my current job. As this realisation begins to take root, my anger is also beginning to re-surface, aided somewhat by various conversations with work colleagues, who like myself have observed the way in which the Director behaves and found his morals shall we say, somewhat lacking.

I have begun to ponder in recent weeks exactly why this man seems to trigger so much anger. As despicable as his behaviour has been, I have to admit that it is not all about him, but also about me. If this were not the case then I would not have chosen to experience this and all that he has and continues to do, for I believe that people are only placed in your path in order for you to experience certain things and work through the issues that those people highlight. In this case it is not only what he is, but also what he represents. What he represents to me is all that has gone wrong in the material physical world, and everything that is corrupt, and lately I have seen an awful lot of that. With the news tonight that a former UBS banker has been jailed for his part in almost bringing down his bank, he will no doubt be sweating as he realises once again that this outmoded way of thinking, and indeed of not only conducting business but any aspect of life is no longer relevant and no longer works. I shall not though lose sleep on his account, for I have my own life and my own issues to worry about.

I am aware though that 21st December 2012, the date for the end of the Mayan calendar and quite possibly the most important shift in the consciousness of mankind takes place is fast approaching, and I need to clear as much of this anger as possible. So starting tomorrow I have resolved to send love to the situation in an effort to help it dissolve. If as is likely I am here for another 5 or 6 weeks, then there must be a reason for that, and I do not want to give the universe any more reason to keep me here than it needs to. The faster then that I can do this work, the faster and easier my departure, when it does come will be. So to my soon to be ex bullying boss, "I am sorry. I love you. Please forgive me. Thank you".  

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

A new job for the new year

I am both celebrating and commiserating this week, strange as that sounds, for I have a new job. I say commiserating because although I know that it is time to move on, I am still sad for the lovely residents and the staff that I shall leave behind who have supported me.

I must say though that I was and am surprised at the speed in which it all happened - the universe in this case seems to have pulled out all the stops. It is almost as if once the decision was made, the universe said to me, "right let's get you a bigger and better position before you change your mind".

My decision to move on was precipitated by the news that the Manager of the home in which I work has once again decided to move on. As the third manager in a little over 18 months, this does not bode well for the home at all, and she will in my humble opinion be a great loss, for above all the Managers we have had, this one was the best opportunity that we had to turn things around and make the home the truly holistic place that it once was and could once again be. That though has all gone out of the window, once again because of the Director and his attitude. During a conversation that I had with the soon to be outgoing Manager, who was originally taken on as a Deputy, it transpired that following the abrupt departure of her predecessor, our former Manager, and her promotion to that post, despite the huge increase in responsibilities, she has not received a pay rise either. Of course once her own decision was made, The Director offered to match her new employers offer, but like me it seems that he underestimated her ability to sense, see and hear, for it is not only about money, but a matter of principle and so it is now for me too.

Following then her announcement and my own decision to leave, I went straight home and logged onto the website of a company that was recommended to me by my neighbour and friend, who used to work there. There I found a housekeeping job in a relatively local home, the closing date for which was that very day. I emailed my application and two days later, they rang me at work to arrange an interview. It was duly arranged for Thursday just gone, and two days after that, I received a letter offering me the job.

The day prior my application I finally found the courage to ask the Director to his face when I could expect a reply to my letter - a letter which was sent 7 weeks ago asking for a pay rise. In typical head in sand stance, his response was that his wife deals with this sort of thing, and that we would have to arrange a meeting. He doesn't at the moment know that I have other plans, or another job,  and I must confess that my ego enjoys this knowledge. My ego would also I confess, love to be a fly on the wall when he reads my letter of resignation. That though will have to wait until  my new employer has obtained the necessary references and CRB.

The new home though is so very different from what I am used to - in every conceivable way. For one thing it is purpose built, which means no more dipping into rooms to get out of peoples way. It also means proper facilities, including storage and no more mountain climbing each time I wish to get clothes out of the tumble dryer (our Director, in his breathtaking stupidity and lack of consideration for our health and safety, has installed the tumble dryer on top of the washing machine, which means that we have to stand on a stool in order to reach it). Everything in the new home is shiny and well maintained, with no nasty smells (and that includes the ones that emanate from Directors). I could tell straight away when I walked through the door that this place is a lot more relaxed, although I am sure they have their moments.

During the interview, I had a long chat with both the Manager and Administrator and was then shown around the home. There were some interesting questions about coping with negativity and so on that did make me wonder, but I don't think it can possibly be worse than where I already am!

Although the basic hourly rate is the same, there are all sorts of bonuses that bring the pay up to considerably more than I am getting here, including double time for Sundays. These will more than compensate for the fact that it is slightly less hours at 35 per week, as opposed to 37.5 which I currently do. The fact that it is a later start at 8.30 rather than 7am will make the biggest difference of all, plus the fact that I will no longer be expected to work seven days in a row - the Manager, who incidentally started her own career in the home where I currently work stated that in her opinion this is bad practise and something that she very much frowns upon. I have then been thoroughly reassured that this will not be a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire.

All in all, no matter which way I look at it I will be so much better off in every conceivable way. Of course when Coran rang me at work on Saturday to say that the letter had arrived, I spent the last hour of my shift walking around with a huge grin on my face. Sunday was much the same, so much so that the other staff on duty must have wondered what I had taken! 

Yesterday then I informed my soon to be ex Manager and the other housekeepers and domestic staff (this has come as a huge blow to them) before ringing the company to formally accept the offer and arrange a time to go and fill in all the necessary forms. That being done today, I now have to wait for the references and CRB to come through before formally handing in my notice.

Now that the news has begun to sink it, I can start to relax and let go of all the anger and frustration that I have been holding on to for so long. I am desperately sad in many ways to be leaving such a (mostly) good team, for they too have had their moments, some more than others, and such lovely residents behind, but life is about change, and I have come to realise that none of these are reasons for me to stay.

It is true what I said in the interview, that I have learnt all I need to from being here and it is now time to move on. I no longer need to experience the negativity that has emanated from this place, and the Directors attitude these past few months. I have no regrets about my time here, for it is all a learning curve, and this has been a wonderful place for me to learn much about life and about hoe the care industry works. When I first began work here 3 1/2 years ago, I had little knowledge or indeed conception of all that awaited me - it has been both an honour and a privilige to spend time with people of such wisdom, with so much to share. They have taught me a great deal, as I have no doubt taight them.       

It is natural that as I start to relax knowing that the end is near the doubts are starting to creep in. I have had several really moving moments with various residents today that have tugged at the heartstrings - one of the residents went home today after having been with us for a few months. He was and is such a lovely man who has been through such a lot in his life - fighting in the war and losing his son in a car accident, where he and his wife had to make the heartbreaking decision to switch off the life support.

I had an interesting conversation too with one of the other younger male residents who has cerebral palsy. Yesterday we were talking about Remembrance Day and I commented to him that I didn't suppose he had been allowed to join the Army and fight - it was a simple off the cuff remark that I didn't really think that much of. He said to me today though that had upset him a little, but he was glad that I said it all the same, as all of his life he has fought against his disability and my stating that has made him reassess and realise that he has to count his blessings and be grateful for all that he has has and all that he has learnt. We shared a little hug and both of us had damp eyes!

All this has though understandably made me wonder whether it is the right thing to leave. I have to though realise that this is all part of the letting go, and remember that the reason I am feeling happier is because I know that I am going. It doesn't then change my decision and there will be no going back. The attitude and behaviour of the Director cannot and should not be tolerated, and if I stay it is sending a signal to him and everyone else there that this is acceptable when it is clearly not. A line has to be drawn.

I have then this afternoon been over to the new home to fill in all the forms, CRB, bank details, uniform and so on as the quicker I do that the quicker the CRB will come through and the quicker I can give my notice. It will be sad leaving all those lovely residents behind but none of them are really a reason to stay, as everything changes, and a year from now some of them may not even be alive. I know that I have done good work and changed lives by being here and that will continue with a new set of people in a new environment. They are though losing a very good person even if I do say so myself, and it isn't just me either, but Coran as well, for she has often volunteered there helping at the parties and so on, and the staff all know her as a friend as they do me. Things at the home though can only go from bad to worse, and I get the feeling that things will get a lot worse before they start to improve. Our Directors His loss is someone else's gain, and I guess that in time he will realise what he has lost. I am not the fist person to leave there, and the way things are, I certainly won't be the last.             

Friday, 9 November 2012

The Living Wage - a flawed notion or the right thing to do?

It will not have escaped the notice of anyone who reads the more serious as opposed to tabloid press, or indeed anyone who listens to the radio, that this past week has been what has been referred to as the National Living Wage Week. The living wage for those who do not do those things mentioned above, is defined as a wage that enables those who receive it to have a decent as opposed to basic standard of living, giving them the means to feed and clothe their families in a proper way using quality products as opposed to the white label goods commonly on sale (this last bit is my own words). This is given my own situation, as someone who earns considerably less than the living wage (£7.45 for those outside of London as I am), a subject which is close to my heart.

There are  arguments both for and against, with predictably those who are against being mostly the business people and economists. They state that the living wage while a nice idea, is not workable, as there is no such thing as a free pay rise, and to introduce this would make business less competitive leading to job losses for those already in employment and an inability for up and coming small businesses to provide jobs at all. They say then that it is a flawed argument.

I though do not believe that it is flawed at all. For me it is really quite simple. The low paid tend to be those in service sector jobs, such as care work, cleaning (my own profession, for make no mistake, this is a profession and a skilled job) And retail, all those jobs that no one wants to do yet are essential, for everyone depends on them. Those that perform these jobs are the cogs that keep everything else in motion, take those cogs away and the whole system collapses.

We have got it all wrong in this country, in fact in this world, where those who perform the most valuable work are the least paid. It stems from several beliefs, firstly that those who do good deeds should do it for love only, and secondly, and this is the important one, that there is not enough. We all to some extent have this belief, no matter how high up we are, from the top right down to the bottom. Those at the top are afraid of losing what they have, and so they cling on to it for dear life, refusing to share with those lower down, while those who are lower down are also afraid - afraid that for them things will never get better and never get easier. Everyone is thus afraid.

The economy is though wages driven. Give people more money and they will spend it, not on credit using money that does not even exist, getting themselves further into debt while the rich get even richer, but using real hard earned cash. Evidence shows that in those companies who have adopted a living wage, it has more than paid for itself through increased productivity, lower recruitment and training costs (for the staff are more easily retained) and less absenteeism.

I find it hard to believe that large employers at least really cannot afford this, and can't help feeling (and this is based on both personal experience and observation) that it is really more a case of them not wanting to afford it - they would rather spend money on pleasing shareholders and funding the bosses (for this read their own) extravagant lifestyles than on the staff who make the company profitable in the first place. When someone says to me that they got rich through hard work, I ask them whose? Perhaps it is time that the bosses began to ask themselves that same question.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Pulling out the stops

Things have been a little better at work since Monday, although not much, and I have no regrets about my decision to leave. If anything, I am more determined than ever.

Yesterday I finally found the courage to speak to the Director in person, and ask him outright (looking him straight in the eye) whether he had seen the letter I handed in 6 weeks ago requesting a pay rise. He said words to the effect that his wife and co-Director deals with this sort of thing, which is probably true, since she is the one who does the pay roll. He then when pressed a little further, said that we would need to arrange a meeting to discuss things further. This is typical of his behaviour to try and pass the buck and not deal with things directly. But it is now out there and he knows that I am not going to let this go away, and so if I hear nothing for another week, then I shall ask him again and start gradually chipping away, making it clear that this for both me and him is not going to go away and needs to be dealt with.

It matters not that I have an interview tomorrow for a housekeeping job in another home, for this for me has now become a point of principal. Barring a complete disaster at the interview tomorrow, even if he does turn round and offer me a rise, I will still want to leave regardless, for this is now about far more than just the money, it is about being treated as a human being with dignity and respect, things that while he remains as Director are likely to be in ever shorter supply. It is then about maintaining my own dignity and respect and not allowing my own boundaries to be breached any more than they already have been. As it stands, I am now way past my limit with regard to that. Fingers then crossed for tomorrow.

I have a good feeling about this job, as it all seems to have just fallen into place. My next door neighbour who is a  retired care worker, has often spoken about this company, whom she worked for and said how well they treat their staff, and so I made a point some time ago of looking up their website and adding it to my favourites. On Wednesday of last week, when I made that decision to leave, I went to their website after I got home and found a housekeeping job not far from here, the closing date for which was that very same day. So I filled in my application and emailed it across, and then two days later when I was laying the tables at work, they telephoned to arrange the interview. Then after a I got home yesterday Coran showed me a flyer for a new home that they opening a little further away that had come through our door. Coincidence or what?

The universe then seems to be pulling out all the stops to help me. Now it is down to me to help myself.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Time to move on ...

On Wednesday I made an important decision regarding my job, namely, that it is time to move on. Truth be told, I have been deliberating on this for a while, ignoring the feelings of discontent, stuffing them down, until the anger and despondency finally spilled over, with the realisation that while our current Director remains, nothing will change.

What you may ask has brought this realisation about? The announcement that yet again our Manager has herself decided to move on, this time after eight short months. Bear in mind that the Manager before her, who left in abrupt circumstances, rumour has it not of her choice, lasted just six months and the Manager before that not much more. The Manager before that resigned due to the stress of the job, which was making her ill. Three Managers in eighteen months does not bode well, and I am sure the CQC will be very interested to know why. I shall not though with any luck be around to help them find out, although if I am, rest assured that I will pull no punches and tell them exactly how it is, and has been.

It is then for me the combination of this latest resignation and the continued lack of response to my request for a pay rise (it has now been six weeks) that has led to this realisation. Truth be told, the attitude of certain more senior carers has also played a part. Twice last week one of them had a go at me for "getting in her way" while I attempted to do my own job. More than anything though, it is the feeling, which stems from the top and seeps downwards, that the housekeepers come very firmly at the bottom of the pile. When the chips are down, we are not important enough to help and support, but we are important enough to moan at when a few specks of dust are found.

If you want proof of that then consider what happened today. I was one of three of housekeepers rostered for duty, one of whom (myself) was supposed to be housekeeping downstairs, while the second one housekeeped upstairs. The third housekeeper was rostered for kitchen duty. Both of these other housekeepers phoned in sick leaving me all on my own. What you may ask did they do when other staff were unable to help? Phone an agency, request that one of the carers helped out (bear in mind that there were seven of these on duty for 24 residents, at least 2 more than than they normally have). Like hell they did, no I was told that I had to manage on my own. I then was expected to clean the whole house, do all the laundry, and the washing up, including the morning tea trolley.

I would have hoped that one of the carers would at least have been rostered to do this, but no, I was asked to stop what I was doing and go out into the kitchen and do this as well. It is true that the Manager did her best to make sure I was alright and she asked as well if there was anything she could do to help, but to be honest, it is sometimes easier to do it yourself than to try and delegate to those who are not experienced, and so I chose to struggle on. I realise that this my choice to make, but by doing this and refusing to paper over the cracks, they were there for all to see, so that they will hopefully realise the importance (and more to the point, the magnitude) of all that we do. There is nothing like not having the work done to make others realise what work is normally done and to make then understand and appreciate your role. This has been all too lacking of late.

So this morning, when the Manager asked if I was okay, for the second time following my appraisal I told the truth. I told her that I was totally hacked off and all that today had done was reinforce the fact that I had made the right choice in choosing to go! That day cannot now come a moment too soon.