I am soon to work my last shift in my current job, and move into another. I thought this would be a good time for reflection on the past 9 months I have been working full-time night shifts at a care home:
Night shifts have been challenging, and have changed the way I socialise. I often had to withdraw my participation in social events in order to ensure I wasn’t tired, and a lot off my days of were spent sleeping. Some groups I attend; I had to stop altogether.
This was my first ‘real’ full-time job, and through it I have become adapted to the workplace which, as it turns out, isn’t as scary or impersonal as I had thought.
There are a lot of real problems with current state of the health care system though, and this is much to the distress of those working in it who want to provide genuine care to patients. To start with, there is little incentive to work in care: the pay is often minimum wage, and employee benefits are non-existent… you don’t even get paid sick days. This alongside long shifts, short staffing, and cost-cutting, care is not an easy job to work in. Having worked in the private health care sector now for some time, it only redoubles my position against the privatisation of the NHS: when working for profit, those in charge find any way to cut down on costs: lowering the workforce numbers, providing cheaper meals for patients, and supplying care staff with cheap, easily-broken equipment to use for their job. When seeking to make a profit, corners are cut, and in health care, this shouldn’t happen.
That being said, I worked alongside some very caring and compassionate people, who disliked the state of health care as much as I. They would go out of their way for the benefits of the patients, and on a 12-hour shift, maintaining a high level of motivated compassion can sometimes be trying. Some openly admitted they didn’t expect to become rich by working in care, but that didn’t seem to bother them. The level of human interaction, the visible benefit of your work; these were often rewarding enough.
I also met some people there who I have learned a lot from: people who, because of unfortunate circumstances, had their lives changed by disabilities, and face ongoing health challenges with that. Yet who, after a fortnight in hospital, can still come back and greet you with a joke…
I’m not sure what the next job will hold: it seems it will be less physically demanding, and during the day. I’m excited to begin, however!