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Thursday, 13 February 2014

And so it begins ....

My grievance letter was sent by Recorded Delivery on Monday, and has I am told, now arrived, so I am now in the calm of the storm, waiting for things take their course. In writing the grievance, which involves all three members of the Management team, I ask for seven incidents to be taken into account, at least half of which were witnessed by others. Sadly these witnesses are not willing to back me up, refusing in their own words not to get involved, but something tells me they may very soon change their minds. n the meantime, I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

I have at least one member of the care team who is willing to help, and may even have a relative from one our own residents. She has her own issues with the Management team and the care that her relative has received, and has said that if I am able perhaps to help her, then she may be able to help me. We shall see what transpires. In the meantime, I have made copies of the latest residents survey for the home, as this is as much about my own issues as it is painting a picture of a failing home and by implication Management. If I am able to do this successfully then it can only strengthen my case.

I knew that it would take at least two days for the Regional Manager to receive my letter, as it was sent to him via the Registered Office in London. Yesterday then my stomach was in knots all day wondering whether he had seen it and what he thought. When I hadn't seen the Managers for several hours I began to wonder whether they were in a meeting discussing it all and trying to worm their way out. It would be just like them to do this. Of course this was all conjecture and as usual, my imagination running riot, for as it turned out, he did not receive my letter until today.

One of the residents though said an interesting thing. I was hovering just outside the Dining room when she began talking to me, as she often does. The carer who has stated her willingness to help was also there, having recently finished administering the lunchtime medication.  This resident became a little emotional as she said that she felt the home had changed in the last few months. Somehow she said, it did not feel the same. I sat next to her and asked her what she meant, and whether anyone had done something to upset her. She said that while no one had, the staff did not seem as nice as they once were. I have heard it said that those with dementia are sensitive to atmospheres (this is a cross that I too have to bear), so this is not surprising. There have been very significant changes in not only this home, but across the whole company in the last few months, which have been well documented on this blog. I thought that this was important enough to document in her care plan, which we housekeepers can write in, so I did this as one never knows how significant this may later turn out to be.

It turns out that I was right to do this, as when I looked at the Diary today I found a note from a member of the night staff stating that this same lady had seemed confused about her interactions with the care staff. She had mentioned care staff being rude to her and declining to help her. She had also been very confused about who it was that had actually helped her. While it is true that this may a sign of her dementia worsening, it could also be a sign of something else. This team member had then also made a note of this in her own care plan entry.      

What a day though today has been. The Laundry Assistant was not in today, and as we have been experiencing problems with the machines (again), I was asked once again to do both housekeeping and laundry.  I was in the Laundry folding some linen just after my tea break when my Line Manager came in and asked me whether I could spare a minute to go and see her. 

When I went into the room the Head Housekeeper was also there as note taker, so I immediately knew that something was up.  There had been a complaint about a room earlier in the day, so I asked them whether it was about that, to which she replied that it about a letter that they had received from me - I didn't need to ask which one. My Line Manager went on to ask whether there was anything she could help me with, to which I replied that I could not speak to her as procedures needed to be followed. She then stated that she doubted this was the case, as the Home Manager (bear in mind that this grievance is about both of them) had asked her to come and see me and she must surely know what the procedures are. Knocking the wind from her sails I then offered to ring the Union and check before stating that I would not speak to anyone without the presence of my Union rep. I then calmly got up and left the room.   

As soon as I returned to the Laundry I rang the aforementioned Union Rep and she informed me that as I suspected, by doing this they were acting outside the law. When you are in a hole you really should stop digging ...                 

One of the issues I am complaining about is an incident during the summer when I was accused of entering the staff room one minute early in order to go home. You could have knocked me down with a feather when during our own housekeepers meeting just before home time today, this same Line Manager told me to go and get changed a full five minutes early. I reminded her that I had five minutes still left, but she insisted in front of I hasten to add the rest of the housekeeping team that it would  take me this long to get changed anyway. Being very much aware that this could be a trap, I did not do as she said but went downstairs first with my keys before going back to the Laundry. Only then did I enter that staffroom and by the time I signed out it was several minutes past my home time.
All of this has really taken its toll on my stress levels this week, with all sorts of strange feelings in my digestive system and interrupted sleep. That is in addition to a blinding headache that I had for much of the last two days, which until I spoke to the Union this morning, refused to budge. Coran who like me is very sensitive and finely attuned has been coming out in sympathy with similar symptoms herself. I know though that I am doing the right thing. 
Ultimately this is not about wanting compensation, or even wanting head to roll, the only thing I want from this is change - a change to values that are more than just words, but which are acted on, and most importantly of all, to a Management style, and this starts at the top where compassion is the overriding value that is expressed. Before that can happen the managers have to start having compassion for themselves. That though is a whole other ballgame.
I felt so tired this morning and as the day wore on developed a pounding headache. Having an extra unit to clean (the Head Housekeeper had the day off to help arrange a residents funeral – apparently she has known the family for years) did not help. I could feel this ball of tension in my neck muscles that felt as if they were held in a vice. My tummy was also in knots knowing that the District Manager had probably received my letter today. I kept wondering whether any of the Managers knew about it and what their reaction might be. I half expected a Team Leader to come upstairs at any moment and inform me that I had to leave, but this did not happen. I still had the headache when I got home, and despite taking ibuprofen tablets and having a hot bath, it refused to budge. I hope I sleep a bit better tonight, as sleep has been in short supply of late.


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