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Working From Home

July 18, 2012

Last week, I went and visited a friend in their home. Nothing unusual in that, although I realised it was for me. I can’t remember the last time, I visited someone else’s home. I was only there an hour but I became obsessed with how normal their family life was. Whilst I chatted to my friend, other members of her family got on with their homework; mowed the lawn; discussed who would have control of the television viewing from 9pm. My home life is nothing like that.


I want to point out that this post isn’t a whinge. My home life couldn’t be any other way. I just wanted to present a narrative about what it’s like to live in a home that is several other people’s workplace.


When Steven first came home from the positive behaviour unit, my solicitor advised me to have support in the home from 6 in the morning to 9 at night, seven days a week. Much of Hillingdon’s case against me was based on two assertions: I under report incidents and I am at risk from Steven. Needless to say, they were unable to come up with any evidence to support their beliefs and the judge rightly criticised them for it. But I went along with the solicitor’s advice for one simple reason: I am not at risk from Steven but I am at risk from social services. They have never acknowledged that they got those assertions wrong and all their actions since the case lead me to believe that their ongoing input is not about support but about litigating and collecting evidence.


So, what is it like having people around from 6am to 9pm? On the one hand, the guys are incredibly supportive and have made it their mission that they do all the support when they are at work. There are a few times during the week when not a lot is happening as Steven has become so much better at engaging himself, and the support staff will suddenly do my ironing for me, or go round with the hoover. This sounds fantastic, and it is, but sometimes I yearn for the normality of doing a pile of ironing.


I guess it is hard if you are a support worker in someone’s home to constantly be aware that it is someone’s home and not just your workplace. I get up at 6am to let the support worker in and he takes over and does Steven’s breakfast and supports him during his bath. If I haven’t got an early start at work, the staff encourage me to go back to bed. I need little encouragement for that but I’m aware that I am trying to sleep in my home, whilst someone else is working in their workplace. A good, but embarrassing example of this is a couple of weeks ago I had gone back to bed and was enjoying a dawn wank when my bedroom door suddenly burst open and the support worker happily brought the washing in to hang up. Apologies all round but an awkward moment to say the least.


I wrote at length last week about the logs I have to keep for Social Services benefit and the symbolism of the big blue binder doesn’t escape me. My dining room table that houses the newspapers; bills, Steven’s symbols and is used as our place of dining, is also someone else’s office. Every part of my flat is multi purpose – my home; the support worker’s work station. Believe me, this takes some head adjustment and I do struggle with it at times.


Sharing the space with non family members is something that I noticed my friend didn’t have to do. My fridge has the support worker’s food and drink in it as well as ours’; Steven’s wardrobe has the support worker’s change of clothes hanging up when they do an overnight; my bedroom chair has the support workers’ swimming stuff as they do five swims a week with Steven. It couldn’t be any other way but it can feel intrusive.


At 9 o’clock the shutters come down on the workplace and Steven and I have a home to ourselves. In 18 months, nothing that I couldn’t cope with has ever happened in that time; in fact, I think Steven really likes the time when he has me all to himself. Last night, Steven went up for bed at his usual time of 9.45pm. We do his “Waltons” routine for 10 minutes and then he was fast asleep. I’d been looking forward all day to going back downstairs after he fell asleep and catching up on my Lewis boxed set. I gathered supplies; a glass of beer and a large bar of Galaxy. I laid my duvet expectantly over the sofa, got myself comfy and them felt a sharp poke in my back: one of the support workers had left his umbrella on the sofa. It actually drew blood. The moment had passed and I came upstairs and started to write this blog.


In all yesterday, I was awake from 6am to 11pm and only had two hours when our home was just a home. And even that two hours was interrupted by a lethal brolley. Home sweet home.


From → Social Care

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