Non-Carers Who Care

It had been a busy day – running from A to B and back again dealing with some rather unwell patients, so a call to an elderly lady with a cut leg was going to be a nice change of pace.

We'd been told that she had fallen on the bus, but was now at her home. As we pulled up we could see one of the council's buses parked outside, they are used to take the vulnerably elderly to day centres and the like. The pavement was soaked in soapy water.

The driver of the bus met me, he looked a little worried as he showed me to our patient. She was sitting in a chair, her leg was raised and although the bus driver and his mate had used a towel to try and stop the bleeding her leg was still leaking a fair amount. Still it was a fairly simple job – bandage up her leg and run her drive her into hospital where they could properly clean and close the wound.

All throughout my treatment of her, the patient was more concerned with making sure that the bus workers didn't get into any trouble. She was a little bit… 'dotty', which her neighbour assured us was normal for her. She wasn't worried about her leg, nor really about the amount of blood that she had lost (not a huge amount, but it looked like a lot), all she was worried about was the bus crew.

For their part the bus crew had done a lot of good, especially given the fear that a lot of council workers have of being sued when acting outside their 'protocols'. They had made her comfortable, had given her some effective first aid and had cleaned up the pavement and her garden path. They had even brought her shopping in and put the frozen things in the freezer. Given what a lot of other workers would have done, they had acted above and beyond their duties.

And all they were concerned about was that the patient got better.

It's so refreshing to come across some care-workers who actually care, unfortunately it is rarer than I would like.

12 thoughts on “Non-Carers Who Care”

  1. Couldn't agree more, especially in a society run wild where everybody's so afraid of getting sued that they don't dare to help. The other side of this coin of course is people who are scared of “getting involved” – like where somebody's getting a good kicking and people just stand and watch because otherwise They Might Be Next.It was weird to read this today – last Saturday afternoon I was driving home and passed a lady on the side of the road, in a lot of pain screaming/crying etc. I stopped, obviously, and went to see what was going on. She was an alcoholic and drunk (she told me herself), had fallen into the cycle path whilst out walking (as you do when drunk, bear in mind this was 3pm on a Saturday afternoon), and had got herself run over by a 'cyclist'. Judging by the state of her leg, she'd been hit by more than a bicycle, I'd say a scooter or something. Anyway the brave soul that had hit her had done a runner.

    She lived 400m away, so I put her in the back of the car and drove her home. Met the husband at the front door, told him his wife was in the car and in a bad way. He pushed past me, went to the car and started laying into her calling her a disgrace and she should be ashamed of herself etc. All this while she's lying there crying. I had the distinct feeling that if I wasn't there it would have turned physical (and probably had on many occasions previously).

    After I asked him to lay off the verbal he swallowed hard, explained (as I already knew) that she was an alcoholic and was frequently brought back home by passers-by and that there was nothing really wrong with her. I pointed out that she'd banged up her leg pretty badly, and that if he didn't take her to the hospital then I would. Grudgingly he helped me help her into his car and they drove off.

    I was left with a horrible feeling that she'd get a lot more from him than kind words when she'd sobered up.

    Anyway, food for thought.

    Keep up the good work, your blog's an inspiration.

    Regards Daniel

    (Netherlands)

  2. It is nice to hear about people who get over their 'job's worth' attittued (or don't have one) and go beyond to offer help where others would turn away.Further to Daniel's comment above, many people in this day and age are AFRAID to stop and render help – particularly if you're a woman travelling alone and coming across someone. People calling something in and carrying on driving is becoming more and more common (and more and more frustrating) all the time.

  3. If their first aid was competent, they may have been acting within their protocols. There might have been a trained first aider amongst them. Trained first aiders may be less scared of actually doing something.We should know our limits!

  4. Great to see this. It just goes to show that First Aid is still an important part of the healthing process. Great work guys, great work

  5. I think I've got to chip in and say that most carers do care and get on with their job efficiently and without fuss which is why you don't notice them. It's only the few bad apples that get noticed and then the whole profession gets tarred with the same brush. It's one of the jobs that if you're doing it right (paid or unpaid) is easy to overlook. Unfortunately, people like Tom are more likely to happen on cases where it's gone wrong.

  6. Hi Tom!Just a quick note to tell you a 'cut-finger' story from the other side….

    I gave a copy of your book to my Dad for Christmas. When I went home just after Christmas, I was greeted by Mum and sister saying “ha ha you're out of the will now” for I had forgotton my Dad has a phobia of both blood and hospitals. Mum's not even allowed to watch ER. When sister was in hospital having his first grandchild, he spent his visits a fetching shade of grey.

    So…anyway it turned out he was rather enjoying the book (THANK YOU! My inheritance (the mortgage) is safe!) So last Monday night Dad was doing a bit of washing up while Mum was out. While drying a glass he managed to break the glass and cut rather deeply into the base of his thumb. Apparently there were white bits sticking out etc.

    The poor man. Having read your book he didn't call an ambulance for fear of being blogged about! He called Mum, but since she was having her hair done she didn't get any messages for 40 mins. He just sat and kept the wound closed as best he could, feeling rather wobbly. Mum zoomed home and took him to the local A&E where he was seen, stiched up and sent home in good time. No tendon damage, but a rather impressive plaster and a rash (he's allergic to plasters) to show for it.

    Anyway – thought I'd share. Not that he would have called an ambulance anyway, but I thought you'd appreciate that you had definitely got your point across in one household!

    Will a sequel to your book be out in time for Father's Day? 🙂

  7. I think that I have been meaning to say for some time that – in my small town and village world at least – a carer who didn't care would stand out – and probably wouldn't last long. There's only a handful; we know them, and they know us. The day carers are usually the ones who discover the frac NOFs, Colles', CVAs etc when they make their first visits. They are often the only people their clients recognise and trust, and that, coupled with first aid skills gained the hard way, can make a huge difference to us and to the patient.Re “fell on a bus” – in rural Scotland, we tend not to suffer the language difficulties common in the major English cities, but you may be interested by this tale of people separated by a common tongue.

    The incident was a 999 call to a badly injured 13-year old whom we found lying in the main street; he was being tended by a number of practical first-aiders. His jaw was broken (in two places, it transpired); he had lost several teeth; query tib/fib; query Colles; query pneumothorax (and that was just what we found on the primary survey!). A bus had halted nearby, and a heated discussion was going on between the driver and a gent who turned out to be the caller. The driver was Doonhamer born and bred; the caller was a kebab-shop owner of Turkish birth whose English, it had to be said, was impeccable. The caller was insisting that the boy had fallen off the bus; the driver was insisting that he hadn't, and that – furthermore – the child had never been on the bus in the first place. The caller was becoming increasingly indignant, insisting that he HAD seen the boy on the bus, and that he had witnessed him falling off; the driver – equally insistently – kept telling the caller he was talking nonsensense.

    We, meanwhile, had discovered the extent of the boy's injuries, and could not equate them to falling off a bus; they were more consistent with having been HIT by a bus. The argument (now being refereed by a policeman) was reaching stalemate when the boy's distraught mother (who had been summoned by phone) calmed down sufficiently to say that the boy was simply returning from school, and had no reason to be on a bus at all. The driver pointed out that that was exactly what he had been saying; the caller – now becoming quite distressed – said again that he had seen it happen, and did everyone think that he was a liar?

    An old lady had walked up slowly to the scene in the same direction of travel as the bus; it took her some little time to come up to speed, but – to her eternal credit – she sorted it in a second as soon as she had her breath, her wits about her, and the PC's attention.

    Oh, yes, the boy had fallen OFF the bus all right; he had been showing off to his pals by jumping on to the rear bumper and riding up the street ON the back of the bus. The Turkish gentleman, however, did not know the quirk of English usage whereby – despite the fact that we are IN a bus – we say that we are ON it. He merely saw a boy ON a bus, who then fell OFF it. My colleague and I later discussed the fact that, were we to fall OUT OF a stationary bus, we would say that we fell OFF it. “English as she is spoke.”

    Somewhere in your book, Tom, you remark on the number of languages commonly spoken in the Metropolis. Better you than me, mate; explaining “Pair shilpit wee bauchle” to an elegant lady doctor who speaks perfect English, but whose primary domestic language is Bengali, is enough to be going on with!!

  8. Here in Washington, DC, I've noticed that the bus drivers who have regular routes and regular schedules know the people on their routes quite well. We're supposedly an anonymous urban area, but I've had bus drivers grill passengers about elderly passengers who aren't at the stop at their regular time (one driver called the ambulance for an elderly woman who was always there at the same time every day and suddenly wasn't, and his call did result in the EMTs arriving and finding her having collapsed and in need of medical attention in her home where she lived alone) and on one route that I took, when our regular driver got reassigned, we missed him so much we all took him out to dinner for a farewell party. I think a lot of people in public service jobs take a great deal of satisfaction in doing good where they can. Certainly, on my regular route, the bus driver is not allowed to drive from our stop until he has had a good flirt with my two-year old.

  9. This is probably the wrong place to put this, so I apologise. I live near Bexhill, which is famous round here for being populated with old people, and therefore has lots of care homes. I was in my first year of a BTEC Health Studies course and had to do a placement at one of these care homes, which was an EMI home. On my first day I knew this wasn't a good care home, but couldn't put my finger on the reason, being a naive 16-year-old. But the next week I witnessed one of the carers dragging one of the residents (please note, the resident was very frail and had Alzheimer's) across the dining room to her table, and all the while the resident was screaming for help. My dad is a social worker, so I made my excuses and went outside to phone him. He told me to tell my tutor immediately, and a formal complaint was made. That gave me a very negative view of care homes, and I vowed never to enter one again. Well, until I was desperate for a job in summer 2005, and the only job was as a kitchen assistant in a care home. I got the job, and have never looked back. This care home is a wonderful place. All of the residents look out for each other, and the more independent residents look after the more vulnerable ones. The carers are all fantastic at their jobs, and even though they're badly paid they'll gladly do overtime for the benefit of the residents. So I learned, before it was too late, that care homes aren't all bad places, you've just got to trust your instincts. Hopefully your patch in London has some good places too, Tom!

  10. I also work in a care home, and its a lovely place to work, we are caring, all our residents are looked after to a high standard with dignity and respect, as to are the relatives and visitors, who know where the tea making things are, we are there for them when they are told there love one as passed away, and are supported as well as our residents (we are residential not nursing) staff on there days off volunteer to help with trips out, and our residents run the quality circle meetings to make decisions about THERE home, and I have job satisfaction, I agree some homes are not up to scratch, but equally there is a lot of great homes.

  11. I think in situations like that, and particularly with people who have illnesses like Alzheimers, there can be a bit of a fine line between care and abuse, and I know that sounds stupid, so I'll give an example.Imaginary patient Bob has Alzheimers. He also has a rather nasty skin infection and the doctor's orders are that the infected area must be kept scrupulously clean and an ointment applied several times daily. If this is not done the infection is likely to get worse and cause yet more problems, definitely pain and possibly even along the lines of blood poisoning.

    Bob's carers in his private and generally “nice” home for the elderly have a duty of care to administer Bob's medical treatment, and to keep Bob clean, fed, warm, etc, because Bob is no longer able to autonomously take care of these things for himself. But Bob, in the throes of Alzheimers, resists all suggestions that he might like to have a bath or apply his ointment. He will not be persuaded, and he punches and spits at and struggles with anyone who attempts to do it for him. Not through malice, it's just one of the unfortunate things that can happen with that kind of illness.

    Which would be abuse? For the carers to leave him without bathing and medical treatment, thus leading to a worsening of the infection? Or for the carers to pin him down and forcibly wash him against his will?

    In either case a complaint will be made. Option one, “we went to see Bob and he stank, and his skin infection's getting worse! The doctor prescribed an ointment but he's not getting it applied!” Option two, “we went to see Bob and five people were holding him down, and he was shouting for help! It's assault!”

  12. it is nice to see people caring for others but sometimes that care can actually get in the way of how things should be dealt with in a reasoonable mannercase in point bus full of passengers driver breaks sharplsy and one of the elderly passengers falls off her seat, of course ambulance is sent for, when crew arrived and examined patient not only did we find her safe ane well but she did not want to travel to hospital she simply wanted to go home and as the bus stopped at her front door we were more than willing for this to happen and get ourselves “back out there”. This was all fine until the public decided they wanted to decide the patients outcome, with much mumbling and grumbling of “she lives by herself she should go to hospital” for the first time on the road i felt part of a reality show with the decision going down to a txt message and phone poll. Myself and my partner both fearing the public lynching that was bound to follow took the easy road out and took said patient in for assessment and extended her simple journey home by about six or seven hours. So yes it is great when we get assisstance, that is just that, wish it was always the case

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