By Mary Flom
This line of work can make for some pretty long days! When I first started working at Compass, I went through a bit of a culture shock. I had to get use to the long hours and the changing schedule. I eventually found a rhythm that worked for me. Here are some tips that helped me along the way. If you have your own, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
Think through your entire shift even if you don’t know what you will doing, think of all the “what if’s.” Do you need gas and have you budget for that? Are you and your client doing anything out of routine that you should account for? Are you covering a shift that you don’t normally and if so, do you know what the expectations are? Do you have enough clothes? Do you have enough food? When your shift is complete, ask your client if there is anything they’d like to do the next time you are there. There is no “over kill” on preparation.
Long shifts can be draining, on your days off, make sure you are doing activities that fill you up. Sometimes the best activity is none at all. You aren’t your best you without rest. This means you need to be aware of your limits and value yourself enough to advocate for what you need. No one knows your limits but you. Resting while doing long shifts is just as important! No one is going to tell you to take breaks while you are on shift. You need to be intentional with making that a priority and building it into the schedule that works for you and your client.
KEEP YOUR TRUNK STOCKED
Let’s be honest guys, the reality is, sometimes you may feel like you are living out of your car. Accept that this is part of the process. Keep your trunk stocked with extra supplies of clothes and essentials so you be prepared for whatever may pop up. Being prepared for anything will help reduce your stress and keep you focused on the tasks at hand.
Long hours can be touch on the body. Are you giving your body what it needs to stay healthy and active? You can’t expect hour body to work hard for you if you aren’t working hard to nourish it. Hydration is a huge part of this especially with the warm summer months. We can never say enough about drinking plenty of water! Nurse Jamie has more to say about that here.
5. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
As you know, things with our clients change on a consistent basis. Do you have a way of staying on top of what’s going on in the houses you work in? This could be checking the notes or texting the staff member you will be relieving. You could arrive early so you have time to get an update from staff or ask your client great questions to get the scoop. Figure out what works for you and the team you work with. There may already by a communication structure in the home.
this one hits close to home doesn’t it? I’m sure this never happens (wink, wink) but let’s say you are finishing a long shift and you get a call from a supervisor asking if you could cover a shift? Saying yes to covering that shift even when you are tired and ready to be in your own bed is so appreciated (you have no idea!). As someone who said yes to covering shifts a lot in the field, I know it’s important to also say yes to having a good attitude. Being the best version of yourself even when you don’t feel like it and you are tied can be challenging. I get it. I’m thankful we have the choice to be excited to serve our clients even if that’s not the “mood” we are in. Sometimes we can have an even greater impact when we operate beyond convenience and beyond what we thought we were capable of. Choose your attitude even when it’s not easy is huge.
If you are reading this and are feeling alone inside, reach out to some one right now. Text, call or stop by. Don’t hesitate, just do it! Community and connection takes work and effort. You are a better version of yourself when you are living in community. With long shifts, it’s important that you have people in your life that you can reach out to. Get connected with your Compass community. Demonstrate to your client what community and connectedness looks like by being intentional to do it yourself. Plan a pizza night with a group of clients and staff or meet up at the park for a picnic. The amount of community connection you have in your life is directly proportional to the investment you are willing to make to see it happen. If you’re feeling lonely, check out this article here for some tips on what you can do.
What are your tips? I’d love to hear your thoughts!