The weather outside is frightful… But in the name of journalism I have still ventured forth into the deluge to bring you the latest Limping Chicken interview. I know. I know.
Today’s interviewee is a lovely young, slightly damp, man, Richard Scarlett. We shall jump straight in with the Random Question. Would you eat a chicken leg with nails and toes still on?
No way, that’s a disgusting thought. Nice way to start an interview, making me sick!
I aim to please. So, Richard, well done on not drowning on the way here.
Lovely weather. My dogs refuse to go out in it. I had to drag them outside for a wee.
Dogs? We like dogs. I shall come back to those. Tell me about you, Richard Scarlett.
I was born in Manchester, the only Deaf in a hearing family. I had hearing aids but they didn’t really do a lot for me; I hated the feeling of them filling up my ears! And all the hospital audiology trips… I grew up oral with a little sign, and then when I went to college in Derby in 2003, I learned about BSL and the Deaf community. Now, I’d say BSL is my preferred language, but it depends who I’m with. I use BSL all the time when I’m at home with my fiancée, who’s also Deaf.
Oooh, when are you getting married?
Next year. I can’t wait; we’ve been together since we met at college. That’s why I moved to Derby; to be with Katie.
It’s gorgeously romantic. If you invite me I will come in my best wedding wellies. You sound like you’re close to your family?
Yes. They’ve only ever wanted the best for me. Although they did send me up in a plane one birthday… No, I loved it; the pilot let me fly for a bit and it was such a great experience. That was before I had the CI, so I was younger than 15 and flying a plane!
Ah, yes, you have a Cochlear Implant. How has that worked out for you?
It’s been the best choice for me, definitely. My parents always made sure I was aware of the options, at that CI was a possibility, but they left the decision to me. When I was 15, I just felt it was the right time to try. It’s a long process, so I wanted to wait until I was definitely ready.
Do you think being from a hearing family influenced your decision?
I think it probably did. I can hear more, and from further away, and in greater detail than I ever could with hearing aids. It wasn’t an easy process, but it was worth it in the end. I also knew I wanted to continue to work and socialise with hearing people and not be reliant upon an interpreter, and the CI made this a possibility. It made the hearing world that little bit more accessible. It doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for everybody, or that we all want or get the same result, but it was right for me.
What work do you do?
I work in a hospital as a Health Care Assistant, on the Medicine Ward. It’s a bit like rehabilitation; it’s the ward patients come to when they are preparing to go home, or into residential care. We help with personal care, walking the patients, taking blood pressure; basically general care but also helping to improve their confidence. I have a lot of conversations!
Does your deafness hold you back at work?
Not at all. My colleagues are all hearing, but they are fantastic. They are very adaptable, and I’ve never needed to use a sign language interpreter. Which is good, as this kind of job role wouldn’t really be appropriate to have a third party involved. It would probably make patients feel uncomfortable, and it would take away that personal element that I can give to them.
Do you enjoy the work?
It’s nice to see patients move on after they’ve done their time! Sometimes it’s very, very nice! It’s a caring job, so you feel like you’ve made a difference. But it is hard sometimes, with very ill, confused or violent patients. You need a lot of patience with the patients!
How did you get the job?
I worked in a care home near Birmingham before. It was a long way to travel every day so I looked for something closer, and saw this job advertised. Really, I think I got the job because I already had good patient skills and I knew how to use a hoist!
And because you’re lovely.
Oh, yes. Of course.
Modest. So, do you think you will keep on working in care, or do you have other ambitions?
I’d like to be a HGV lorry driver, actually. It’s been my dream since I was little and used to watch the lorries. I’ve always loved cars and lorries. My fiancée is more into mortorbikes.
But they’re not your thing?
I borrowed her bike one time, to have a try on it. I was riding it along the dirt track, you know like Motocross? Well, anyway, everybody else went round the bend and I went straight on, over these bumpy bits. Except the bike got stuck on one, and stopped, while I kept going. Of course, Katie came running over, full of concern.
Concern for the bike. Once she had checked her bike was ok, then I think she came across to me…
Brilliant! You clearly make a good petrolhead couple. However, it has occurred to me, if you want to drive HGVS, you’ll need a dirty baseball cap and a Jack Russell.
Apparently lorry drivers aren’t allowed dogs anymore. They jump out the windows and things. Anyway, my dogs would eat a Jack Russell.
Oh, yes, your dogs! What have you got?
A golden retriever and a shih tzu.
(A few moments pass while I try to stop laughing at Richard’s sign for shih tzu).
Oh dear. Well, you’ve got the retriever. That means you’ve got one real dog.
Shih tzu is a real dog. You’re thinking of a Chihuahua.
Bleurgh. We should move on. Any advice for people thinking of working in the care sector?
I’d recommend getting onto an NVQ course and seeing how you like it. You can gain experience and qualifications at the same time. Personally, you need to have good communication skills; if you say the wrong thing it can have awful effects on a sensitive patient. You also need to be genuinely interested in the work, not just flopping about, or people won’t connect with you. If you need an interpreter it doesn’t mean that you can’t work in care, but you might need to look at different options, such as working in a residential home where the confidentiality rules are less strict, and the patients more comfortable.
Did you always think you would be working in care?
Not at all; I was studying IT at college! But, you should never be afraid to try something out, career-wise. Just because it’s not your preferred area, or area of expertise, doesn’t mean you won’t find something else you enjoy and are good at. Trying lots of different things gives you a beneficial experience, and you learn from everything you do. Be realistic, but be open.
A very lovely and true sentiment to end on. Finally, do you have a Random Question, please?
How would you catch a chicken, and what would you do with it?
Excellent. Thanks so much, Richard and good luck with the wedding plans!
Interview by Emily Howlett
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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