Ea Quae Legit (eaquaelegit) wrote in direct_care,
Ea Quae Legit

Just another week at the mad-house

And I'm not talking about the clients.

First let me explain a bit about the background here. Important things to know:

1. We are served by a cafeteria. The menu is a three-week rotation, and the guys eat what they're given. Have you tried eating cafeteria food for a year or two? What if you didn't get a choice in what to pick? Yeah. Sometimes life sucks.
2. Weekend staffing is sparse and difficult. One person is 8-8 (takes her break at the end, leaves at 6:30). One is 9-9, and has to take her break in the middle, and this is the longest, most difficult shift in the schedule. One is 11-11 and can leave at 9:30, usually. Quite often regular staff take vacation hours when they're scheduled for 9-9, and relief comes in and does the last four hours.

Okay, the main event. This could get long, bear with me.

I was working 8-8 on Saturday. I was working with a full-time staff (call her Emily), who was 9-9, and another relief (say, Shannon), 11-11. Emily took those vacation hours, and another relief staff, Susan, was in for the 5-9.

The meal for dinner was mac and cheese with ham bits. It sounds gross, and it looks gross, and it tastes gross. I feel terrible feeding the guys something I won't eat. Since our house really can't get out much, often the weekend funds get used to buy food and we cook a meal ourselves. Usually this is barbeque, which is nice, but only two of the guys (out of ten) can enjoy it. The rest have minced or puréed diets. So I figured I could make pasta, use the really tiny seed-like noodles, and folks could ALL enjoy it.

I talked this over with the other staff, particularly the full-time staff who's been there forever, and is really picky about making sure guys get the right diets. For the record, I'm pretty picky myself. She felt what I was planning would be good, we even worked something out for the guys who can't have tomatoes. I went shopping, got all the stuff, and started cooking when I got back home. This was about 2:30.

At four, Emily leaves. Things are fine till 5. I am feeling great because finally I feel like I'm doing something pretty cool for the guys, something different. Then Susan comes in.

She's upset because Emily gave one guy his meds early so he could eat early and it would be easier to get everyone to bed (there being only two staff, this is an important weekend evening concern).

She's upset because dinner isn't ready. She berates me, telling me that they usually start around three when cooking and dinner should be ready by now. (Sorry, lady, that almost three solid hours in a kitchen with crummy equipment hasn't produced the meal exactly on time.)

She's upset because I'm not following the diet guidelines. Doesn't even ask if I'd cleared it with knowledgeble staff, or a manager, or if I am, in fact, aware of proper meal guidelines.

She messes up the carefully prepared bowls, making it more difficult to make sure people get what they should. She accuses me of trying to serve a client food that would make him choke - tiny cubes of boiled squash. Squash! And he gets them all the time. He's not a choking hazard, he just has no teeth. It's a perfectly acceptable thing to give him, it was probably on the meal outline.

I am pretty flustered by this time, and forget that one client needs the alfredo rather than tomato sauce. She yells at me for that. But Shannon had already pointed it out (politely), and I'd fixed it.

Somehow I make it through dinner without yelling, hitting, or crying. I couldn't have been more hurt and angry if she'd spit in the food. The cake I made them for dessert goes uneaten, because the meal sheet says we need to give them all applesauce, again. AGAIN! I can't understand why they still eat the bloody applesauce they get so much of it.

Anyhow, by this time it's very nearly 6:30, thank god. I have made myself some fresh pasta and go out to the patio to eat. We get mealtime as part of our work hours, so I feel no guilt about taking a bit of quiet time. At 6:35, as I'm still outside cooling off and finishing my meal (remember, I'm technically OFF now), she comes outside to tell me I need to take the garbage out. Now, we take the garbage out in the evening so the smelly diapers don't stink up the house. Except, at 6:30, no smelly diapers are in the garbage for the simple reason that no one is in bed yet. I point out that I'm off, and she yells at me that this is my duty, the person always takes the garbage out who leaves at 6:30, it's a house standard, blah blah blah... Now, like I said, there's no point. And no one, NO ONE, takes the garbage out that early. I have never ever seen anyone but her collect the garbage before there's a reason to. Other staff have even tried to correct her on it. Nor have I ever seen another 8-8 staff take the garbage out. She's talking complete bull, and she obviously has no clue about "house standard". I took the garbage out, mostly to be kind to Shannon, who would never have heard the end of it otherwise. Usually, I wouldn't mind taking an extra few minutes at the end of shift, but I really wasn't in the mood to be helpful.

Sunday, I come in for Emily to find a nasty, angry letter to my head staff asking HIM to tell ME to read the client profiles because I obviously have no idea what to feed people. She complains that I was being uncooperative and refusing to take the garbage out, when they were short staffed because Emily had left early. Apparently she didn't realise she WAS the replacement, as per the norm on weekends. THEN, she complains about being left with just an inexperienced relief staff. Shannon, who is new, is a WONDERFUL staff, very competent and conscientous. Emily, who was in Sunday as well, tried to explain that her complaints were wrong and groundless. She tried to explain the staffing schedule, to no avail.

But now there's this written complaint, in an totally inappropriate forum, about me. Everyone can read it. Fortunately, everyone reading it thinks she's nuts and is wrong. Some crazy stuff has happened in the past because of unjustified complaints staff have made against each other. My manager is away right now, but she gets back Wednesday, and I'm going to be going in to explain what was happening. I'm just so mad about this all. ARGH.
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