Day 17

Today I gained real insight into the most important role at the day centre that I’m working at. The one person the centre cannot manage without is the driver. The manager, the medical assistant, the social assistants, the accountant and the cleaner can all take holidays and the remaining staff will cover their duties. However, when the driver takes a week’s holiday this Thursday our client group will drop from 25 to the 5 young people who do not rely on being picked up by the centre’s minibus. Additionally, we will have no excursions, no trips to the park and no weekly visit to the church. I’m guessing they’ve worked out a way to get the lunch delivered for the clients as it’s usually picked up by the driver, domestic assistant and 3 of the clients each day. It’s bizarre. The poor old driver is entitled to 4 weeks holiday per year, but reluctantly takes 1-2 weeks as he doesn’t like to leave the young people without access to the service. There is no alternative and no provision to provide a temporary replacement. Definitely a real moment of understanding differences in how services run in Moldova, compare to the UK.

Anyway, once I got my head around this news we got on with our day. We started with our Latin dance exercise. I had a little ‘squee’ moment as I noticed how much the group were improving their coordination. One young woman, who really struggled to process how and when to transfer her weight to complete a ‘box step’ was happily dancing along in time. We spent some time at the end of the structured activity having each person come up to the front and either demonstrate an exercise for everyone to copy or just having some fun ‘freestyling’. I enjoyed it so much. A week ago I introduced something new to them and now it feels like it’s really grown and developed into their activity.

At lunchtime I was treated to lunch out by the director of the company that organised my placement. It was very nice, but a bit surreal to be able to disappear off for a Moldovan 3 course meal (soup, main and fruit compote) in the middle of my working day. I suppose that’s the difference between being on placement in the UK as part of my occupational therapy degree and being here as a volunteer that they are so grateful to have.

This afternoon was spent completing a craft activity with a small group. We used double sided sticky tape to complete mask kits and I was told this was a material unfamiliar to them. I decided to step back and just ‘see what happened’ for a moment. One group member worked out how to use the tape independently, two required a demonstration and then were able to use it and the fourth found it difficult to create a strong pincer grip to manipulate and peel the tape, but was able to use it with minimal assistance once the ‘fiddly bit’ was done. My instincts had been to make the task clear from the outset, but I think it was better to let them explore and work it out for themselves. It certainly gave me more insight into their abilities to problem-solve and I made sure I was able to respond with a demonstration before they became frustrated.

The day also involved some planning for our new, driver-less, schedule and translating my recipe for fairy-cakes from English to Romanian. Hopefully we haven’t made any crucial errors. Time will tell and I aim to be blogging tomorrow about the delicious cakes we created!

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