Making a list, Checking it twice…

Tuesday 23 February, 2021

I have, after a difficult time, become completely PA-less. And it’s always been difficult to hire a new PA, I couldn’t even fill the empty hours my PA left when she downsized her hours and actually arranged interviews for that role about 2 weeks before the pandemic kicked off. I mean, I was there where I do the interviews on the Monday, and a week later the whole building was closed, and a week and a few days later, the whole country was in lockdown. That was nearly a year ago.

So now here I am, there’s still a deadly virus out there, my only way to keep myself safe has been to cut down my calls to the basics, and I’m torn between going back to another agency – and that’s not a good experience outside of a pandemic, but I had to cancel the agency who was fulfilling some calls after we lost Mum, because I had carers pulling down their masks to speak to me, refusing to wash their hands because they’d just put new gloves on, which they’d put on outside my flat, and put them on without washing their hands, and telling me alllll about the fun they were having at their friends and family’s households without any care on how that’s exactly how you spread the virus.

I look outside the world through the window and I’m not confident that it’s got much better the longer this pandemic has gone on.

But being a Direct Payments Employer is not easy. As we already know, it can take months to actually hire someone, and there’s no HR department to turn to when problems crop up. So it’s with these things in mind I created a pro and con list.

Pro of Agency Con of Agency
A pro of having an agency is that usually you see calls being fulfilled within 2 weeks.
That means you’re not waiting a year to have a shower.
A con of having an agency is that you get your call fulfilled when the carer gets to you, not necessarily at the time you need or want.
A pro of having an agency is that you have someone to complain to if something goes wrong.A con of having an agency is that management can fob you off and problems don’t actually get dealt with.
A pro of having an agency is if you don’t like someone they send, you, supposedly, can ask that they never return.A con of having an agency is the ineptness of a lot of the staff who don’t care about their job or the people in their care, and basic common sense stuff seems beyond them. (Do not turn off the shower whilst I’m mid-shower)
Another con is the high turnover of staff, meaning no consistency, awkward first meetings every couple of weeks, and going through the basics of what you need from them.
– What’s the 100th time for you is the 1st time for them-
Another con is when agencies become short staffed, that play disability Olympics and guilty you into accepting no calls.
I’m always the one with the unimportant calls.
If you’re sick and cancel a call, there’s a high chance the carer won’t get the message in time and turn up anyway.
Pro of Personal AssistantCon of Personal Assistant
The pro of having your own PA is you know who is coming to every call.The con of having your own PA is the hiring process can be extremely difficult and take months. Who wants to go months without a shower and their bedding changed?
The pro of having your own PA is you decide your own hours with your budget. If they can’t fulfill your hours and they’re reasonable hours, you don’t hire them.The con of having your own PA is when problems start to creep in after you hire them, you’re on your own.
The pro of having your own PA is you can set out from the beginning what is expected of them.The con of having your own PA is trying to figure out what they say to get the job Vs what they are capable of doing after being hired.
The pro of having your own PA is direct communication. If you’re sick and need to cancel the call, you just text your PA and let them know not to come that day.The con of having your own PA is when they fight against the hierarchy of power and start expecting to be informed on smaller details which shouldn’t affect the time of the call.
– The call is an hour long but they say things like “you should have told me you wanted your hair washing today” even though it’s an hour either way, or they turn up very early and you’re not in because you’re out at the cinema, and “You should have told me you would be at the cinema”. No, the PA should arrive at the time expected.
The pro of having your own PA is you interview your own people and have your own standards that they have to meet.A con is the legal liability of having people working in your home. If anything goes, the blame wrong lays with you. You have to be your own HR department, OT department and Admin Team, and communicate with an insurance company.
Another con is nobody respects direct payments PAs, many places expect proof of ID if you need a carer with you, but there is no ID a Direct Payments employer can provide.
The con of having your own PA is that it’s on you to ensure ppe and training is provided (if needed) and kept up to date.

I mean looking at that, neither option really shines through.

Are there any factors I’m missing, here?


How do you solve a problem like the smart phone industry?

Thursday 18 February, 2021

My phone is dying. Again.

I’ve got an iPhone 7 and I bought it second hand in 2019, very good quality guaranteed, with a 6 month warranty on it. Almost 6 months later, around about this time last year, just after losing mum, just as the epidemic was becoming a pandemic but before lockdown, the screen went blank and would not come back on.

After a bit of a faff, I sent it off for repair under warranty and a week later got it back repaired. Then seven months later, November last year, the battery died and I had to send it off to repair again, and pay for the privilege. To be fair, my phone was back with me within the 7 day time frame.

But here we are again, just months after the last repair, facing battery health failure, with apps randomly closing on me and, weirdly, sometimes missing calls because it lowers it’s own volume to really, really low. Dr Internet tells me this is a memory problem, conspiracy tech wizards tell me it’s Apple deliberately making the phone act dysfunctional and also Apple updating the apps to run beyond the capacity of the battery. And a quick browser search about Batteries shows that once a battery starts dropping quality, you get n into a vicious cycle. You need to charge your phone more, but charging it more frequently means it’s power cycling more frequently, and doing more damage to the capacity of the battery. Neat!

I’ve tried the usual fixes, or if not fixes then tricks to stave off battery death as long as possible, and this is still the outcome.

So clearly my options are either send it for another repair or buy a whole new phone. And I’ve got to say, I’m leaning towards the latter. But… It’s not that easy.

I’ve got small hands, I can’t just buy any new good model on the market within my price range, I need to be able to hold it comfortably! I had the galaxy S4 mini and that was just a bit too wide in my hand for me to hold, and when I got the slimmer Iphone 5s it was perfect and I felt like I should have just got that in the first place, but unfortunately when the big update was coming through that finish off a bunch of apps, i didn’t want to risk having a smart phone that wasn’t so smart, so I upgraded to the 7. It is just on the brink of comfort. Noticeably bigger than the 5s but not as big and awkward to hold as the galaxy S4 mini.

I don’t think I want to continue on with the iPhone family. I know there’s the iPhone 12 mini and that the size is perfect, but I’m not too fond of the company. I mean I never was, I bought the phone out of necessity, and same with the 7; But just how long will I be able to use the next phone before Apple decide it’s too old to support, too old for their brand and do something to make it unusable?

One of my friends has a Pixel. It sounds like a nice, reliable phone, but all Pixels are too wide for me to hold.

I am not too sure about them, but I did consider maybe a second hand Huawei. Because despite what my parents thought, the tech being second hand isn’t automatically the problem here. But even if I could see past it’s questionable reputation, and dodgy description of awe-inspiring zooms when you take into account actual zoom Vs digital zoom (aka cropping), I’m still stuck on the size aspect. I looked at videos which compared the p8 lite, p9, p10, p20, p30 and one of the Ys, all to the iPhone 7, and they were all just too wide.

I wouldn’t consider a Windows Phone unless I was being paid considerably, and that would have to be on a wage, not just a one off lump sum.

And I don’t think it really leaves any other smart phones, does it?

So I considered a Nokia. Did you know that a couple of years ago, Nokia released an updated version of their old inside classic 3310? I never had one but not for lack of interest. Well these new sleek, updated versions are lovely little things and come in a few different colours for a reasonable price of £49.99. And in all honestly, I recently bought a tablet (which makes the phone situation even worse because my phone use has gone down with using the tablet, and it’s sitting there needing to be charged twice a day!) so that means most of the smart phone stuff has been done on that instead. So really, how much do I need a smart phone anyway?

I’ll probably be given this answer when the pandemic is over, when I’ll leave the house and remember exactly what I used my smart phone for, because for the last year, it hasn’t been used for more than music and Instagram “forever scrolling”.

Camera? I have a camera, it’s been a bit neglected over the last couple of years, but I do have one. Music? Well… Yeah actually, I have my mum’s iPod and I wouldn’t mind going back to that, I suppose, as long as Apple don’t kill it off through having to hook it up to iTunes to put music on it. But also…

I remember my Walkman Phone very fondly… I havent needed an additional source of music alongsides my phone since I bought that little thing, apart from the few months between phones, when I went back to a little basic 9pad phone that didn’t take music, (Or have internet, or even have a camera) and had a few hospital appointments, so I borrowed my mum’s iPod until I got the iPhone 5s. And by coincidence, someone had reviewed the updated 3310, and after watching the review for that, the next one was their review of the 5310 aka the Nokia phone that had dedicated media player buttons.

And I have to say, the temptation to replace my smart phone with some retro inspired non-smart tech is very very high. I mean I’m 90% here, that when I can’t keep going on with the iPhone 7, I will buy this Nokia 5310. The only thing stopping me is the bloody 9pad.

I can’t stand 9pad and I changed over to a BlackBerry as soon as I could afford to, so that I didn’t have to deal with one ever again. And I loved the BlackBerry phones I had! The first one, 8900, was a full expensive one, the second one, an 8310, was a refurbished one. It was amazing! There might have have been a character limit in the texts but if there was, I never reached it! My only limit was my Tarrif. I think it came with 300 texts, and 5 texts would pay for a photo message. They were a bit chunky in the hand but I think it was the shape and maybe the weight of it that made it easy to hold.

The few times I’ve had to go back to my little basic phone with the 9pad, I’ve quickly remembered how that’s the one drawback of a basic phone, and returned to the smart phone ASAP so that I didn’t have to deal with it anymore.

I looked into what we’ve got in the market these days for full Qwerty keyboard phones, which aren’t part of touchscreen, and unfortubately there’s not much. There’s the latest blackberry’s, and that’s it. Back in the 00s, integrated qwerty keyboards you could slide out or pull out were all the rage, but the touchscreen market was too big a competition for them, and they became outdated and unwanted.

Except I’m writing this in 2021 wishing for them to make a comeback, because they are not unwanted. I want one! It would be perfect. The slim build of a 00s clamshell phone with a full on qwerty keyboard that slides out!

I think my only hope is waiting to see if Nokia bring out an updated version of one of their’s, in their quest to bring us back the old favourites, but whether my iPhone can last that long is anyone’s guess.