Nobody turned up to feed the aged FIL yesterday morning. Because it’s Easter, the office staff of the ADMR (the carer’s company, Aide à Domicile en Milieu Rural “Help at Home in Rural Areas”) have taken a long weekend, so the office is unmanned. Mind you, the office is unmanned every weekend. Which brings us to another important point. If a carer has a problem, their aged clients simply go hungry/thirsty unless a member of the carer’s family is feeling conscientious. It’s somewhat difficult to explain without giving a real-life example from a year or so ago. Names and places have been changed to protect innocent people involved…

Miss X is a carer, working for the company HHRA (Motto: “A Culture of Personal Service”). Grandmother Y is the client, and is bed-ridden. Miss X is scheduled to visit Grandmother Y three times on this particular Saturday; to give her breakfast, lunch, and supper. Fortunately (for reasons which will become apparent) Mrs. Z is scheduled to look after Grandmother Y on the Sunday.

Now, Miss X, en route to Grandmother Y on this particular dark, cold, winter’s morning, swerves to avoid a wild boar, skids across the icy road, and crashes into the ditch. Another early-morning motorist discovers the accident, calls the fire brigade, and the injured Miss X is taken to hospital. The hospital obviously notifies her next of kin.

By now it is 2 p.m. Miss X’s father, having ascertained that the injuries to Miss X are not too serious, knows full well it is pointless telephoning the offices of the HHRA to tell them about the accident. Unfortunately he doesn’t know which particular clients Miss X was supposed to look after on this weekend. Fortunately, Mrs. Z is one of his friends, and he knows she also works for the HHRA, so he telephones her instead. And, also fortunately, Mrs. Z happens to know Miss X’s schedule for the weekend.
So at least poor Grandmother Y gets a drink of water and some supper.

Out-of-hours emergency contact number, anyone? No. Because that would mean one would actually have to do extra hours of work. Which – by law – the company HHRA is not obliged to pay for.

Anyway, back to the aged FIL. It transpires that the person who normally produces the schedules has left, and has not been replaced. And because of the 35-hour work week, this would have meant that the remaining staff would have had to put in extra hours to produce this schedule in addition to their normal jobs. Which, of course, didn’t happen. So the printing and distribution of April’s schedule has not yet been done. And as a result, not only do the clients/clients’ families not know who is scheduled to turn up when, even the staff members themselves don’t know. We obtained this information from one of the regular carers this morning; she regularly takes a shortcut through here en route to another client and stopped to give us the news about the aged FIL’s missed breakfast. She asked him why he didn’t push his emergency button. Apparently he didn’t want to see LSS.

You couldn’t make it up.

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