Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Aukje de Vries' Diary Day 11

This is a day in which I will not have time to do much writing. In the morning I go and see a friend who lives not very far from me and whom I know from the time we were students. We have not seen each other for a long time so we exchange news on a variety of things. Before I know it, it is late. The weather is very cold and grey, so I do not make a detour in order to have some extra exercise but go straight home.

In the afternoon I have a meeting at Liz’s house. She knows through her church several people who have worked in the care sector and who, like us, worry about recent developments. We have heard that in some places a new organisation has become active: it is called neighbourhood care. They bring the district nurse back to the neighbourhood and the nurse works with a small team of workers who are allowed to do many tasks, not like in the large organisations where the work is completely divided up into small tasks and care recipients get many visits of different workers every day for the various tasks that need to be done. In the end it is much more efficient to have more tasks done by one worker, even if this worker is doing some tasks for which she is overqualified. Can we get the district nurse back in our neighbourhood?

I only know one of the persons invited by Liz. The ones who are new to me are two nurses, one of whom has retired only two years ago (LF), the other (TR), I believe slightly longer ago and she obviously has also been a client of home care herself. There is also the community worker of the church (AL), whose task it is to build bridges between the church and the community. The person I know (LD) has been the director of a residential home for older people. (I want the persons in this diary to be as unidentifiable as possible, because they do not get a chance to authorise my texts. Therefore I do not use their real names. I have given my friends new first names but for the persons I “work with” I will use their initials, in order to make it a bit easier for me to remember who is who in real life.)

We introduce ourselves and very soon we exchange experiences, mostly cases where things have gone wrong. Stuff for your diary, Liz says, but it is too much. I’ll just mention one thing that is bizarre, but it is rather typical of the way in which many home care organisations work.LF tells us that in her organisation the workers all have electronic cards. When they get to the house of a client they have to check in on an electronic device that is given to the client, and they have to check out when they leave. Clients are told they have to put the device outside the house on the doorpost. The worker checks in before she enters the house and checks out after she has closed the door behind her. This way the time the worker needs to take off her coat and to put it on at the end of her visit will be counted as working time, that needs to be paid to the organisation.

How should we proceed as neighbourhood group and who have to be involved? The GPs for sure. There must be about ten of them in this area. Who else?? We are not sure, but we have some telephone numbers. One belongs to the new national organisation. TR has tried to call this number, but so far without success. I have found a local number on the internet. We decide the best thing is to try and call the local number first. The phone is answered by a lady who is quite enthusiastic that we want neighbourhood care and suggests we have a meeting. We try to find a date and we find one next week. Unfortunately for us Liz will then be about to leave for her 2 months trip abroad so she will not be with us. The organisation is based at a hairdresser’s saloon close by, but they do not have enough room to receive 5 of us. I invite them to my house.

Here we go, Liz says, women at work. We do not talk long but get down to business. I notice that we have laughed a lot. This is exciting!

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