Thursday, 23 June 2011

Ooh, naughty!

I freely admit to a cheeky side, so I thought I'd share a cheeky pattern with anyone who's reading. Pasties [pay-stees] or nipple tassles <snigger> All I can say is that I've been inspired by watching Miss Cherry Pop ( and her troupe of Burlesque dancers when they appeared at my local Pub recently!

Ch2, 7htc in 2nd ch from hook, sl st to join (7sts)
Ch 1, dc in each st around, sl st to join (7sts)
Ch 1, 2htc in each st around, sl st to join (14sts)
Ch 1, *2htc in next st, htc in next st* repeat around, sl st to join (21sts)
Ch 1, *2htc in next st, htc in next 2 sts* repeat around, sl st to join (28sts)
Ch 1, *2htc in next st, htc in next 3 sts* repear around, sl st to join (35sts)

Make 2, and if they're a bit small just add another row or two of increases.

I finished mine with tassles and handmade buttons (£1.50 for 3, available from me!).

To make tassles:

Swear at the TV/cat/husband with two fingers. Wrap wool around the outside of your fingers 20 or so times.

Cut off from ball of wool and cut through the thickness at one end, keeping the wool folded. Then cut a long length (9" or so) of wool and tie it about half an inch from the fold.

Tie in a reef knot then sew to your pastie. Or use to try and impress Little Miss Too-Much-Effort...

I'd love to see if you make some, I got hours of hilarity out of posting pictures of mine on FaceBook!

Monday, 20 June 2011

How To Speak To Wheelchair Users

DO give them personal space. Standing over someone who is sitting down is very aggressive and intimidating. Remember the scary teacher at school?

DON'T treat them like a child. Just because a person's legs don't work doesn't mean their brain broke too. They don't give DLA to the hard of thinking (or the country would be bankrupt in a week...)

DO say please and thank you. How would you like to be bossed about?

DON'T expect the person pushing the chair to move it out of your way. If I'm going uphill, I've got my head down so I can use my bodyweight to move an inert weight twice mine against gravity. If we're going downhill, I'm desperately trying to grip slippery plastic handles before both person and contraption go hurtling into the traffic. Pavements are not flat.

DO smile, nod and say hi. Being stuck in a chair can be very isolating as you're dependant on others for pretty much everything. Small courtesies are important.

DON'T look at me like I'm mad for talking to what you think is a "spazzer" or "retard" like they have a brain. They do.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Cuddling cuties

Once upon a time, I had to go to school (it's sooooo un-fay-err) and now i'm a big girl, I'm still in touch with a couple of people I knew there.

I recently got back in touch with a friend who is now a proud mummy of four (I'm a mummy to a cat and a bunny, so four children inspires massive respect in me) Even better, she let me have a cuddle with Number Four, who is 8 weeks old (awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww)

We're both of the crafty persuasion, and I was very privileged to be able to test one of my favourite things to make, the Bandana Bib. And, lovely Number Four makes a spectacular model, very calm and likes to pose!

And, of course, the obligatory Winston-Churchill-Strokes-Beard baby pose...
...which I have to admit I thought had been invented purely for the amusement of LolCat enthusiasts!

PS the bootees were made by me too!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Why carers should work for supermarkets instead

Today I may have found the insult that added to the camel's broken back (to mash up a metaphor). So, I have compiled this list of why exactly I am wasting my time doing my job:

1) If I worked for a major supermarket chain, my basic starting hourly rate would be higher than it is currently.

2) If I worked for a major supermarket chain, I would be promoted once I had completed training.

3) If I worked for a major supermarket chain, I would not have to handle the bodily fluids of others.

4) If I worked for a major supermarket chain, I would get regular rest breaks.

5) If I worked for a major supermarket chain, I would have access to food during my shifts

6) If I worked for a major supermarket chain, I would have a choice over whether I worked evenings and weekends

7) If I worked for a major supermarket chain, I would get a discount on all products, making me significantly better off financially.

8) If I worked for a major supermarket chain, I would not be so emotionally wrung out that I cried on the walk home.

9) If I worked for a major supermarket chain, I would be at a significantly reduced risk of beong physically or verbally abused.

10) If I worked for a major supermarket chain and was physically or verbally assaulted there would be some legal comeback.

I love my job. I love making a difference. I love that chatting nonsense and laughing is the most important part of my job. But why do we live in a society where caring for those who can't care for themselves is so blatently disrespected?

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Buttons, and playing with play dough...

When I was a little girl, I loved my play dough. When I was a bigger girl, I was allowed to have Fimo and Mum would bake it for me. I must've been pretty spectacularly crap at it because not one of these creations exists today!

Recently, a friend got in touch to tell me she was placing an order for polymer clay buttons, and was there anything I'd like so we could save on postage. That got me thinking about the "good old days" of making a mess with plasticine...

So, I collected myself a few little bits I'd need

as well as a few odd looks from the cat... Here we have a rolling pin, a teeny weeny cookie/icing cutter, and a 2mm crochet hook, all neatly on a tray so I can sit my fat backside on the sofa :D

I rolled out my polymer clay (Sculpey, in this instance) and cut out some flowers...

Then I make some holes to sew through with the crochet hook (there had to be a crochet hook) and popped my little proto-buttons onto a baking tray. Fifteen minutes later I have buttons! Now to make some stuff to sew them onto...

Mille the cat is, however, still thoroughly unimpressed...

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Diary of a carer who cares

Ok, so I was going to keep this to craft only stuff, and keep my personal issues private. It's taken me six whole weeks to change my mind, and that is because of the BBC Panorama investigation into the care of adults with learning difficulties. That's what I do for a living, so it's a bit "there but for the grace..."

I'll start by telling you a bit about me. I have worked with people with additional needs for nearly six years now and hold a nationally recognised qualification. I love my work, but I get extremely frustrated by the lack of social and financial respect it's given. Millionaires and politicians may have flash cars and posh foreign holidays, but one day soon enough some poor mug like me will be wiping their bums and helping them dress for barely above minimum wage.

6:30am my alarm goes off and I hit snooze for 5 more minutes. Then I get up and force myself to eat breakfast because my anti-depressants don't work unless taken with food. I surf the net and drink coffee before leaving at 7:30 for the ten minute walk to work.

8am my shift officially starts, although I'm usually about ten minutes early so that I can hand over with the night shift. I make a coffee and chat to the night carer, making sure my dudes (A who has physical, communication and learning difficulties and is in a wheelchair and B who has memory and communication problems) have slept well, and if they're up and dressed yet. Normally, they've chosen to get up and dressed and have breakfast, sometimes they like a lie in. I administer the medication (for which I have received extra training) then sign to say I've done so and assist A to the bathroom, encourage him to do his physio exercises and make him a cup of tea. B's cd has finished so I suggest a few until I work out which one he wants to listen to. I take a slurp of my tepid coffee.

By 9am, I've usually done the compulsory jobs - cleaned the bathrooms (4 - two ensuite and 2 used by staff and visitors), dusted the lads' rooms, recorded the fridge and freezer temperatures (don't forget, this is also a professional kitchen), and checked that the money is all correct (I am my dudes' accountant). If I get time I'll run the hoover round too. Today, I had also assisted A to the bathroom again and helped him change his clothes where they got a bit damp. I down the last of my now-cold coffee then chat to A about what he'd like to do today. I've noticed that he hasn't been out for a day or two so I ask him if he'd like to, suggest a couple of things and we decide on a plan.

By this time, the boss has arrived (technically non-contact but I have an amazing manager) so I make us both a coffee. There are two chances of either cup being drunk hot - slim and fat - but we chat about what A would like to do, plan what "big" trips we're able to offer and that would appeal to them both. Then I head out with A knowing that B will be well looked after until I get back.

A is in a wheelchair and we are supporting him to make healthy meal choices as he is putting on weight which is affecting what little independent mobility he has. As we're out, I'm pushing him and his wheelchair, a combined estimated weight of probably 19 or 20 stone. In total, I reckon we walk a couple of miles, and we try to get out every time I work, even just down the shop for a treat.

4pm we get back to the house and I assist A to the bathroom. B also needs the bathroom so I support him, returning to check on A when I can. I sign in the money, make the boss a coffee (the first one is still on the desk half drunk and stone cold), record what money I've spent and on what, put a load of clothes out to wash and hang out the previous lot. I wash my hands, support B to choose a new cd as the previous one has finished (he's in a musical mood today, sometimes he asks for a film and will probably choose that later), wash my hands again and put on an apron so I can cook dinner. Two courses - main with plenty of veg and pudding. I try and make sure this has some fruit in somewhere, but that's not always possible with what the dudes have chosen to eat.

I serve dinner as close to 5pm as I can. I don't like to risk institutionalising my guys, but a mealtime structure is important so they know what's happening when. Neither is particularly fussed about clocks so our days are divided by breakfast, lunch, dinner, sleep. A doesn't want his pudding so I cover it and put it away for later. He might fancy it for supper. I slurp my nearly-cold coffee as I go. I'm thirsty and haven't got time for a fresh one. Luckily today A wanted to go out for lunch, otherwise I'd have grabbed a couple of rice cakes or a bowl of cereal from whatever I've got stashed in a cupboard in between serving lunch to the lads.

I wash everything up, dry it and put it away and sanitise the kitchen, by which time it's half past 6. I make a coffee (which I finally get to drink hot!) and sit down with the recording. I need to record what each person has eaten, whether they've had their bowels open (so we know their digestion is working properly), whether they've been able to do everything they've asked, whether they've enjoyed the activities they've been offered, what their mood has been, and any behaviours that are unusual.

I finish work at 8pm. By this time, my feet, shoulders and back are aching. I'm so tired I want to cry, and have been since about 3pm. On top of this job, I support a family with two autistic children (direct payment work earns me nearly £2 more per hour) and I do youth work one evening a week.

Tomorrow, I'll rinse and repeat. Now tell me the governement pays too much for the care of our elderly and vulnerable.