So I wake up when it's dark and go to sleep when its light. I eat breakfast at night and have dinner in the morning. I get confused whether to say good morning or good night but that's all just normality in the life of a night worker.
So my day usually starts when my alarm goes of at 6 (Nope that's 6 in the evening not morning). I crawl out of bed not knowing what day of the week it is and stumble down the stairs to my family eating dinner. I grab a bowl of cereal and sit down like the strange being I have become. My children look at me and laugh and think I've gone mad. "Why is mummy eating cereal Daddy ? Its dinner time!" As they giggle to each other. I get out of my pyjamas as they get into theirs and give them both a kiss goodnight as I walk out the door.
I sit in my car with the moon glaring in and then set off into the distance whilst my kids are getting tucked in (the lucky gits). I arrive at the home with a few minutes to spare and I just sit there and wait looking in and dreading what lies within.
As I walk towards the door I brace myself for another long night ahead. I hope that it has been a good day, that they have had a full quota of staff and there is no backlog of work.
I sit down for the handover waiting for the night to begin hoping to hear Resident A in bed, Resident B in bed and so on (you catch my drift right?) As I look at my duties for the hours ahead I give a sigh of relief that it's not me doing the dreaded meds. I walk around the communal areas planning my next steps and strategically organising my brain into what il do and when. But first its the suppers so I head to the kitchen and stick the kettle on. I nip round and ask what everyone wants secretly praying they have not got their Gordon Ramsey head on. As I take my list and head back to the kitchen I check on the rest who are all sound and sleeping. I take round the suppers to those still awake and grab my supplies like a convict escaping prison not daring the risk of waking anyone up. I do one last walk around before I step into my Maggie and Kim role. So i take out my cloth and my bright blue bottle I wash down the sides whilst I'm quietly singing along to Heart Radio. Then all of a sudden a buzzer goes off which scares me half to death. I briskly walk to the board hoping it's just one of them saying they are finished with their supper. As I trudge up the stairs I hear someone calling "Hello, Hello, is anyone there?" I run to the room thinking please don't be on the floor. Luckily they just wanted me to turn out their light. So my attention turns back to the buzzing resident and as I open the door I'm greeted with "what took you so long?" I sympathetically apologise and ask how i can help? They quite sternly ask me to turn off their TV and light. Whilst doing so I pleasantly wish them goodnight and I close the door behind me. I return to my cleaning making sure I get every nook and cranny knowing full well the picky senior is in tomorrow (you all know the one).
I make my way from room to room looking at the clock each time. I swear the clocks seem to go slower at night! And don't get me started on working nights when the clocks go back!
So it's time to go round and do the routine checks and once again going into spy mode trying to dodge the known creaky floor boards in between. It's crazy how you learn which rooms have the creaky boards and where, don't you think?
So the checks are all done and I head back down to log all is fine in the never ending daily records.
I think to myself hmm it's quite quiet so far and quicker than I can run to the loo after a dodgy take away 3 buzzes go off all at once like their all in some kind of gang. Straight away i say to myself "that's it I've jinxed myself now". Everyone knows you should never ever say it's a quiet night! As I deal with every resident with the calmness and professionalism I only wish some of my colleagues had, I manage to glance up at the clock and think oh thank God them last couple of hours have gone quick.
So the cleaning is all done and with the residents all asleep I take the chance to take out my lunch as I sit in the most uncomfortable chair there is so there is no risk of me falling into the sleeping trap. I stick on the TV to catch up on the evening before's Corrie. Whilst I'm on that subject, don't you find it looks like something is missing when you have that random day off watching it at home like a normal person and there is no sign language person in the corner (or is that just me?). As I'm catching up on the nights paperwork I look out of the window the hint of light peering through as the sun starts to come up. I get a weird feeling of excitement knowing that the day staff will soon be getting up to take over and with that I get a strange rush of blood and an abnormal feeling of energy. I take another look at the clock and start counting down the minutes to when I know the first resident will buzz to get up (it's like clockwork you see). I prepare all my things for the last couple of hours ahead knowing that this is the quickest part of the shift and hoping that there are no last minute hiccups that may mean me staying beyond my allotted paid hours. I calmly go about my duties making sure there is no stone unturned and get each resident to their desired place for breakfast. Is it me or does the smell of food after a long night shift have the power to turn your stomach inside out?
So i have now sat down to write up the handover ready to pass over my thankful list of nothings from the night just gone. I get a sense of urgency as I look at the clock counting them last few minutes. Followed by a sense of annoyance as the day staff are chattering amongst themselves in the kitchen making the morning toast and tea whilst they see me sat at the table waiting to give them the handover. They slowly trudge on in and I make a point of saying "good morning".
I sign off on the dotted line (quite literally) as I hand them the book and I grab my coat and bag with a smile. I bounce out the door saying goodbye as i leave and then i sit in my car longing for my nice warm bed. Then i remember i have still got to drive home, take the kids to school, do the washing, prep dinner for the evening ahead and then I can finally get into bed. By this time its midway and as I lay on bed with my mind in overdrive all I can think about is the fact I have to be up in 5 hours to do it all again.
Now there is a saying that it takes a special kind of person to work nights and now I'm not saying I agree but my God is it hard work and there have been plenty of people who have come and gone and not been able to cope with the rigours of night work and for that for all us night workers I applaud you.
Sometimes if only others could see what it's like 'Through the eyes of a night worker'