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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The thin red line

If you are in any doubt as to why I posted a Monty Python video from You tube a moment ago, listen to the words of that song close to the end "You'd better hope there is other intelligent life in the Universe, for there's bugger all down here on Earth".  That bugger all in my case refers as always to my boss - suffice to say that lately I have been wondering whether or not her parents were married ...

It seems that the only time I post on here is when I have problems at work, but there has as always been a lot more going on behind the scenes - various issues in the news, such as the discussions by the Labour party to change their relationship with the unions have piqued my interest. I recently joined a union myself - GMB, which is I believe the third largest in the country. I chose them as several others at my workplace are also members, and I know they have and continue to help at least of my colleagues who has an on going grievance.

As always though I digress. Things have been stressful there of late due mostly to chronic staff shortages. We had a situation a while ago where it looked like one of the housekeepers might be about to join the care team - only I hasten to add as bank staff. What this though would have meant was that every time the care team were short staffed (and this is most of the time) she could be taken off housekeeping and asked to do care work instead. We then would not know from one day to the next whether she would be housekeeping or not. Our Manager informed the rest of the housekeepers that she would not be replaced, as according to the Home Manager, we were already overstaffed, and so we would have to manage with two full time housekeepers and one part time (goodness knows what would happen when one of them was on holiday or off sick). Luckily this housekeeper decided not to do care work after all, and so the crisis was averted, but not before the damage was done - most of all to the Home Managers reputation, for it became clear where her loyalties lay, and they were most definitely not with us.

What has happened though these past few days leaves this in the shade, and if there were any remaining doubts regarding those loyalties they have laid bare for all now to see.

We have a lady on my unit, who has been with us in the home as a resident for maybe three months now. She is a sweet lady (when she wants to be) but very demanding indeed, and extremely difficult to deal with. I won't go into details for this is not the place, but suffice to say that we all there, without exception, find her quite a challenge. Even her daughter admits this.

Yesterday this lady and I had words - it is not important what it was about. One of the carers who was on duty at the time heard what was going on and came out to back me up, and the lady consequently got quite upset. I do not know what made either of us react in the way that we did, and I know and accept that it was unprofessional, but what happened next has left me quite literally reeling and really very upset.

Another of the carers overheard what was happening and the next thing I knew I was being summoned to the training room and asked what had gone on. I explained in the best way that I knew how and half an hour after that received a phone call asking me to go downstairs and see the Home Manager and her Deputy. I can only describe what happened as a thorough grilling - I felt as if I had been served on toast! It is not so much what was said that upset me, more the way in which it was said. It transpired that this lady has dementia. Being the housekeeper, I was not of course aware of this, and had I been this may have affected the way that I treated and dealt with this lady. This knowledge would have helped me to understand her behaviour a lot better. They then asked me if I understood how serious this could be and whether I understood the potential consequences - they were basically trying to threaten me with disciplinary action, which I do not necessarily think is fair. It seemed to me that as always, this had been blown right out of proportion.

The meeting ended with them stating that they had not decided whether or not they would be taking this further, and that I was to go and apologise to the lady in question. They had the same conversation with the carer, who was also asked to apologise. We both did this, and nothing more was said. It has though left a very nasty taste.

I was thinking about this for the rest of the day, and most of last night. It is not nice to have this hanging over you not having been resolved or to be threatened in this way, and so I was still upset when I got to work today. I am not sure how I even got to work, I was crying so much. When I got there, the Senior Carer took one look at me and knew that something was wrong. The moment she ushered me into the office to talk. the floodgates opened and it all came tumbling out. This is you see, the latest in a long line of incidents, the first of which took place just three days after I began work here, when I was told off for carrying a bottle of  water around with me - apparently staff are not allowed to do this, for reasons which never have been made clear to me. I gave up trying to get them to explain, when I was told in no uncertain terms. that compliance was in their words "non negotiable".

Then there was the bra issue, and being told off for going to the staff room a minute early (even though all their clocks say different things). My own Manager has also had a go at me for various things, and just the other day the Home Manager asked me why my partner was walking around the home, when she had come to visit one of the residents. The Manager thought we were walking around the home and accused me of shirking. Bear in mind as I write this, that my partner gave up a day and half of her own time, time away from her own business to help them organise a sponsored walk for a local charity and help raise the profile of the home. She would not have bothered had she known that this would have happened.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is, that the Senior Carer promised to speak to the Home Manager on my behalf as soon as she came in, and get back to me with what was said. She also informed me that the Area Manager was visiting that day, and I hoped that I may have an opportunity to speak to them both and clear the air. This though was not to be, as three hours later, the Senior Carer finally got back to me, and informed me that they would not be taking things further and that yesterdays threats were made "only to scare me". You could have knocked me down with a feather. If this is an appropriate way for a boss to behave, then Mary was a virgin after all ...

The fact though that the Home Manager did not see fit and come and see me in person knowing the state I was in speaks volumes and told me everything that I needed to know about where her priorities lie. The carer was just as upset as I was and was seen crying in the staff room during her own break. When you have two valued members of staff feeling this way then as far as I am concerned, something is seriously wrong, and I don't think it is with either of us two.

When I got home, I tried to get through to the Union, but kept getting the engaged signal. I will try again tomorrow, as I really feel that I need some advice on this, as it is verging on bullying and I would like to know where I stand. I do not though at this moment in time feel that I want to remain with this company for any more time than I need to. I am going to Iceland in a little under 2 weeks to hopefully see the Northern Lights so will use that time to mull things over and decide what if anything I can do. This time though, as far as I am concerned, they have well and truly crossed the line.

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