The incredible cost of ageing
My current gig is Community Transport, driving older clients around. We help other community organisations like Addison Road Food Pantry. They distribute and sell food, often things near expiration date but also fresh fruit and vegetables.
This day I took five boxes out to deliver. One went to an indigenous family, grandma, daughter, five kids and two dogs. Next was a lady in a unit, then a large home in a rich enclave - presumably a nonna living with her kids. Another unit, and then a house that I couldn't find.
I call the case worker, as the client file says that is the point of contact. Case worker asks me to stand by and makes contact with her client. Calls back and redirects me as I have the wrong address. I leave the food box and call in to my office for new work.
They ask me to return to base to deliver lost property. I drive across the inner west, through a brewing storm in the spring humidity. In the garage I ask the office to swap me into a people mover instead of the 20 seat Coaster bus – reasoning it is more efficient for the company.
I have to shut down the bus and clean it – disinfecting every touchpoint; closing down the Route Match tablet, the i-phone, Bluetooth handsfree and signing off the log book and run sheet. Take the car – repeat the process in reverse, check everything, wait for the tablet to log in, and leave after 20 minutes with one small knitted shawl. Drive this lost item to the client, wait for them to answer the door after yelling carefully about who I am and what I am doing.
I go to the medical centre and collect a client, slow on her feet and drive her home. Like many she is attending medical appointments most days of the week now. In and out, managing her caseload of tests and treatments.
Another client is at the supermarket, distressed about not being allowed (by my company) to bring a shopping stroller. She has two small bags, I load her and the bags, and take her home. I carry her bags into her unit.
I go into a lot of homes, my company shirt is the badge of trust. We workers are all on the same page – we care, we are a careful, we don't rush, and we listen. She is very, very upset, and I ask how John, her husband is. He often stays home, too frail to come. 'In hospital. Had a fall', she says. Ahh.
Pressing a little, she opens up that they gave him a blunt prognosis yesterday. She is frightened. I address her shopping stroller issue. 'Just wheel a shopping trolly to the pickup area. I'll load your stuff on, and bring it into the unit'. She nods, and closes the door.
That's my workday, 8.30am until 2.30pm on this given Friday. Without us, these people can't live independently.