I am not sure why I feel like this, perhaps because I like to be in charge of my own life. Yet I am reluctantly starting to realise — due to rheumatoid arthritis and its nasty effects — I may need help with housework soon. I hate the idea, and will keep going and doing as much as I can for as long as I can. On a good day I can clean the shower and do some weeding, on a bad day I can barely open a bottle or pull my pants up! Winter is the bad time, when the cold makes everything hurt more.
My job for a good few years was as a home carer for others. I worked in England for Wiltshire Council; I got all the difficult clients as I was good at dealing with them — the alcoholic, the mentally disturbed and incontinent, and the manipulative and odd ones. “Give them to Jacqui,” they said. “She will deal with them!” But I found I was also doing a lot more than I was meant to, like collecting huge packs of incontinence pads in my spare time, doing washing for one lady in my own home, well she had no machine anyway! I used to take one (I shall call her May) little treats too; a pot of yoghurt, some strawberries or a homemade cake, as she was being starved by a sister who didn’t want to spend money on her. I loved my work, it was meaningful. I gained a lot from the experiences.
Here in Australia I began my care career doing home care, and personal care, but in those days we climbed ladders, cleaned China cabinets, and moved articles. I also used to fetch medicine for one at weekends, and feed the chooks and dogs when he was away.
Today the rules of health and safety mean that is no longer done! Home care workers are not allowed to move chairs to vacuum under tables, or clean anything requiring a ladder of course, and it seems the rules deny all logic. If we could move the chairs easily and put them on the table would we need help?
Anyway, sadly, I am requiring help I know. The shower and the floors need a bit more than I am capable of sometimes, and on a very bad day I need someone to hang out the washing too. Winter can be cruel as my fingers refuse to cooperate.
My job as carer merged into doing personal care at the hospital taking Certificate 3 and 4 and also finishing a dementia carer’s course. I only gave up working at the age of 70. The last two years I did activities instead of nursing, but was involved in taking people to the toilet and helping to move them. It was still quite hard on the body!
Ours is an old house, it has cracks and crevices, and dust blows in under the ill-fitting doors. The grime that accumulates, will now be some else’s job. High ceilings ledges and corners all make life more difficult for us. My husband can’t do much as he has a back that is giving him more trouble, the lawns are huge and we need help with gardening too, but trying to get more than basic twice-a-year help seems impossible. They tell us there is a ‘package’ we are entitled to, but somehow the elusive help is always sometime in a distant future. With husband aged 84 soon and me 80 this year, how about now, time for that darned package to be delivered!