Conflicting Obligations of a Careworker

I am prone to feeling paralysed at the best of times, and this is not the best of times. Usually it is because there are so many things to be done in day to day life and I worry about what I should do for the best: conflicting obligations that tangle my mental health until I feel trapped and spiral towards depression and anxiety.

But now also there is a deep anger inside of me. It is triggered by the injustice and the lack of truth about people in care homes dying and that it is only just now emerging as a cause for national concern. They are hidden figures; the cost is immense. 

I am a carer. There is a way that my natural care and concern for people means that I will touch and talk to people without my mask on. Because what they are really needing to stay alive is not the lack of Covid-19 but the touch of humanity. 

It is like Jesus touching lepers. It is like Jesus allowing the unclean to touch his clothes. It is all about ‘the laying on of hands’ and about human contact. For surely Hell is all to do with being isolated and alone. No one should die alone and untouched, but no one should live alone and untouched either.

So what I am battling with is that when people say to me, “Have you got enough PPE?”, it makes me angry. Because that is not the issue at all. The issue for me in reality is the conflict I feel inside about when or whether to use it or not. 

My job is a lot about risk assessing, and one factor in risk assessing to safeguard frail older people is that they should, as much as we all do, have the choice to make unwise decisions, because sometimes ‘staying alive’ is not what is required but to ‘live life to the full’.

Every day food is being provided and every day no one will eat it because eating is a social skill and many of our residents are losing it. Sitting and eating together is a way of coming alongside that Jesus used all the time. So I will sit and fully assist someone to eat or I’ll even sit and eat or drink with them. 

What I’m seeing might be different to what you are seeing. What I’m experiencing in this social distancing, lockdown, pandemic time might be different to what you are experiencing. And that makes it so difficult to explain to anyone.

So when I’m praying to be more Christlike, and I am continuing to do that every time I go into work, there is this conflict inside me.  It’s about conflicting obligations that paralyse me at the best of times…and the worst of times.



Creator: Horia Varlan

License: CC BY 2.0

One thought on “Conflicting Obligations of a Careworker

  1. Thank you for this. The patients my husband is dealing with are sick so PPE is non-negotiable. He doesn’t like it at all though. Many patients are elderly on his ward and they aren’t keen because no-one can hear anyone else. (Although some aren’t bothered at all. One chap asked a Healthcare Assistant to come in. She got fully gowned up and then he asked. “Is there any tomato sauce for my chips?”) Funnily enough, we were talking about the impact Jesus must have made when he actually touched lepers. Revolutionary


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