Have you ever had a job that required you be “on call”? My current job requires me to be “on call” all of the time. Day, night, holidays, you name it, I’m fielding calls. In case you’re wondering, I work at a supportive housing residence for a wide variety of individuals (low-income, HIV/AIDS, individuals diagnosed with mental illnesses etc.). All of them have their own apartments within the residence and are basically living independently, with some supports.
Some people want and need our help, others don’t. But the bottom line is, if someone goes to the hospital, gets in a fight, disappears or god-forbid dies, I’m the person who gets the first call and has to direct staff in how to handle the situation. Being a manager is so much fun, right?
The Friday before Christmas one of the clients we work with went to the Emergency Room. She was not initially willing to go, but we felt she wouldn’t be safe to stay in her apartment alone, so we sent her against her will (this is often difficult for us and for the patient, so it’s not something we like to do unless it’s medically or psychiatrically indicated. It was in this case).
Needless to say, the rest of my Christmas holiday was spent talking to MDs and social workers, advocating that this individual was not competent to care for herself or refuse medical care. Multiple times throughout the weekend I found myself getting angry that I had to spend my Christmas (when I should be spending time with my family) advocating for this client and arguing with MDs. I felt completely chained to my work.
Then Christmas day around 6pm I had an epiphany. Holy shit, I’m so lucky to be in the place I’m at. The client I was advocating for was medically and psychiatrically frail, was alone at a hospital, had no family interested in her well-being, was basically lost in the “system” on Christmas day. Sadly, I was her only hope of getting the care she needed.
There I was feeling bad for myself and having a mini pity party, when the client I was fight for had basically nothing. How selfish and terrible am I? The rest of the day and the rest of the weekend I answered every call cheerfully, because I am so fortunate and so blessed to have everything that I have.
Have you ever had a job the required you be “on call”?