Following yesterdays debacle with my sons failed feed pump, we had to run his feed late into the night to get him sufficient hydration and nutrition. (His 'grumpiness' subsided quickly once we got a little feed into him - surprise, surprise.) Normally his bowels move a few hours after he's finished his feed for the day (I should probably have warned people of a squeamish disposition to leave this post early.), so it shouldn't have surprised us when he had an 'accident' just as he was about to leave for the day. It did surprise us, so the end result was a copious amount of heavily soiled clothing. My wife and the nurse cleaned him up and redressed him so he could go out, and I took up my natural role as 'poo master.'
This is a role I've taken on as the least skilled part of our care partnership. It's not particularly glamorous but it is necessary and I'm sure many other carers are at least as expert as myself. There are real skills in dealing efficiently with multiple, large items of clothing, slings, towels, wheelchairs, beds, carpet etc. and these go largely unrecognised by the outside world - and don't exist as far as Care Assessments, Person Centred Plans or Case Reviews are concerned. This post is intended as a celebration of all carers who regularly spend a happy hour or two up to our elbows in sticky, brown semi-solid waste. We are the unacknowledged experts at smell containment, soil removal, sluicing technique, pre wash solids reduction, drain unblocking and carpet retrieval. (not necessarily in that order.)
- We have the skills to transport heavily contaminated items from bedrooms to washing machines without leaving a trail a noseless bloodhound could follow. (Most of the time anyway.)
- We can transform a slimy wheelchair into a gleaming chariot with little more than a shower cubicle, a face (never used again for this purpose) flannel and a cupboard of cleaners, bleaches and disinfectants.
- We are the operatives who always get to the extractor fan first, who remove the items from the scene as they emerge, so that there's clean area to sort things out, who 'disappear' the offending evidence. (And don't drop it all that often.)
It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it - and I don't actually mind that it's me. This never fails to surprise me.