Hello, and welcome to The Everyday Language Podcast. Here you can listen to English spoken at natural speed in order to practice your listening and to find out about everyday life in the UK.
Later on, transcripts for these podcasts will be uploaded to my website everydaylanguage.net. In the meantime hope you enjoy it and thanks for listening, cheers.
So today’s topic is working at night.
I’m just gonna talk about what I used to do when I was working in the UK as a mental health nurse. [I’ve] been a nurse since 2007, and before I came to Japan, and whenever I go back to the UK, for a long period of time, I usually do some nursing work.
One because, er, really love it, I love being a nurse, and, and two because, you know, I need to earn some money just like anyone else.
So— well, I loved going to work at night, and I still do. First thing is, er, you usually for a night shift you, you try and rest before getting up.
So while everyone’s out in the daytime, you might be in bed, or just trying to relax as much as possible. The first night’s usually the hardest because you have to change your routine to get into the night routine.
When you leave the house, and I used to leave the house around 8 o’clock or 8:30 to start a shift at 9:00pm.
Usually, outside there’s not too many people about. There’s not many cars on the streets and most people are usually already at home. You know, trying to relax after a long day at work.
So while people are at home, they’re getting relaxed, I’m just going out to work.
And I like that because, yeah, there’s not much traffic on the road either. So I used to cycle to work when I was in the UK, and it’s nice having the, basically, empty streets.
Where I used to stay, there was a big hill, overlooking the town, and I was staying on the top of the hill, so, it’d probably be dark outside by then, like the sun had already gone down.
So at night, you’ve got the fresh air, it’s already dark and I’ll get on my bike. And at the top of the hill [it] was quite flat, so [it] had quite a gentle downhill section, it had a gentle gradient.
So gradient means the…the angle of the, er, of the slope, like whether it was high or low, but this was quite low, so, for the first part, like a couple of minutes you’d just glide along, and then it’d get steeper, and, it’d get quite a lot of steeper so you’d pick up quite a lot of speed.
But as I say it was night time so there was not many people around, and then getting down to the bottom of the hill, there was still another sort of 10 or 20 minutes to cycle to work, but I did it.
I used to cycle with my earphones in. Listening to music trying to get myself psyched up, like getting, to try to get myself in the right attitude for work.
And I remember-you know, so there’ll be some cars on this street but not many, but apart from the cars at one point in my journey to work, and on my bike, I used to cross the road, and if I worked five times that week, I’d probably see, apart from one or two cars, I’d see a fox, I’d see a fox quite a lot.
You know, foxes tend to be quite secretive, they don’t like to be around people. So I think that’s why they like to come out at night too.
So, he or she, used to cross the road in front of my bike, and I’d be okay, so he’s looking, he or she’s looking for some food.
You know, I quite like that feeling because foxes are quite shy create-creatures, or they’d like to stay away from humans, but that he was like a regular, he or she was a regular feature of my journey to work.
And he kind of cheered me up, to see, to see that fox.
For some reason, they always look kind of comical to me. Like they shouldn’t be part of this world, because–have you ever seen a fox?
They’re quite, well the ones in Brighton, they’ve got big fluffy tails. It was coloured very brightly, so even in the dark, everything else was dark colours, but this fox stood out every time, I used to see it.
So after seeing the fox, there’ll be another couple of hills to climb up and then cycle down, and then I’d be at work.
So getting to work for nine o’clock, in that hospital, a lot of people did long day shifts, so they’d work for, from the morning from 7:30am and they’d work until 9:30pm.
So if, sometimes I’d see the same people, when I, when I got to work at night at 9:00pm, the people who were working in the day, they’d be getting ready to go home. And I guess they’d be looking really knackered, you know, because they’d spent a long day at work and had a lot of things to deal with.
But sometimes in the morning at 7:30am, when we were all tired, the same people would be coming back to work. You know, so they’d have a rest, they’d had a night in bed, and they kind of got refreshed and recharged, and it would be us that was looking knackered, me and my colleagues.
Anyway usually before starting work it was time for a cup of tea, um, because I usually tried to get to work a few minutes, before, to get myself settled in and get my mind ready, to start the shift.
And then two or three colleagues would come in, you know, just before 9:00 pm, or maybe a little bit after.
I guess people in the UK, basically they’re punctual, and they’re basically they’re on time for things, but it’s not that strict. At least in the hospital, I’ve worked people are kind of easy going.
And anyway, after getting settled, having a cup of tea, having a bit of chit-chat with, chit-chat is talk, having a bit of [a] talk with, you know, my colleagues in the da, from the day shift, we’d get on with work, we’d have a team meeting where the day staff tell us what’s happened in the day, so the day staff would give us a handover.
So they tell us what’s happened in the day with all the patients, so then, myself and my colleagues, who are the night staff, then we all know what’s happened.
So after the team meeting, after we’ve kind of got an idea of what’s happened in the day. Then there’s kind of some routines to follow.
We go around the hospital check everyone’s okay, with our own eyes, we’ve had a report from the day staff, but we also, it’s good for us to actually meet and greet the patients on the, in the hospital ward.
So we’ll go around, another staff [member], will start, one of the nurses will start to do medicine, the night medicine,
and another [member of]staff, and another [member of] staff would do supper though some snacks he, he’d prepare some snacks and drinks for the patients.
Did I tell you it was a mental health hospital? So that was my speciality working with patients with mental health issues.
For now though, I’ll just say that I really loved working, I still do really love working in mental health hospitals. They’re very unique, but it’s, it’s actually a nice environment if you can put yourself into that frame of mind.
A lot of people say, wow I can work in the mental health hospital be too scary. Actually, it’s, it’s just about life, you know, everyone has a hard time sometimes, and it’s just about supporting people to get better, and I really enjoy that that side of things.
Yeah, so, er, after giving the medicine out and getting supper, and meeting and greeting people, usually people, the patients stay up until 12:00 [midnight], and like, people are going to bed between 10 pm, 11 pm and 12, so last few people are up at 12, or, hopefully, they’re all in bed by 1:00 or 2:00 a.m.
So, by that time, you know, we’re feeling like another cup of tea again, so if everything is quiet in the hospital, and there’s no admissions, that means there’s no people coming into the hospital, that need to be in hospital from outside. Then we can have a cup of tea and start to do other jobs.
So after breaks, about, maybe it’s around four or five, and then the patients may start getting up at five or six…five or six o’clock in the morning.
There’s a funny thing about mental health a lot of people don’t sleep very well.
So they may not, they, you know they may not be sleeping for seven or eight hours, they may only be sleeping for, well not at all, some people don’t sleep at all, and some people would just sleep for a couple of hours, and then get up.
Maybe ‘cos their minds are too active, or you know especially older people, older people, don’t sleep much either.
And part of our duty, as, in the hospital at night is to check on each patient, every, every hour for patients who are, we feel are doing okay, but for patients, we, are [more] concerned about we check on them every 15 minutes or every…
…or for patients we’re really concerned about maybe because they’re suicidal, or something, we check on them, well we have someone watching them all the time.
So that’s called one-to-one observations, that’s when one nurse has to stay with that person, even when they’re sleeping, you kind of watch them through the door.
Or you have, yeah, you have to have eyesight contact, you have to see them with your own eyes.
There’s also another type of observation which is called arm’s length observations. And that’s when, you’re so concerned about that person’s safety, you have to be within touching distance of that person to stop them doing anything dangerous if they do something.
There’s also two to one observations where two of you have to be with that person. Either, eyes…in eye contact or within arm’s length, for that person I’ve also heard stories about, [from] colleagues who have worked in prison, who have said they’ve worked with patients where it has to be four to one or five to one.
So there’s four people watching one person because that person is quite dangerous, or dangerous to themselves, or dangerous to other people.
But where I’ve worked, I’ve never had to deal with that, and I guess I would be quite scared if I had to deal with someone who had to be watched by four or five other people because people were worried about them, and their safety. Whether they would punch a staff member, or you know, they would try to hurt them[selves].
Anyway, so about, around five or six people, started getting up a few people start getting up and, funny thing about mental health again, people love to smoke.
So, well now, there’s a rule change in the UK hospitals people are not allowed to smoke in hospital grounds. So, in the old days, like two years ago, and before people could smoke, we’d open the garden and people could smoke outside.
So, usually the hospitals have an outside space – a garden, or a smoking area where patients could smoke.
But nowadays, in the UK, I guess, they’ve got these new electronic cigarettes, so some hospitals you can smoke the electronic cigarettes inside, at least if you’re in your own room.
I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.
I guess, there’s less chemicals in the electronic cigarettes than real cigarettes that you burn with, you know made from tobacco, but, er, yeah I’m not sure about that.
And then around 7:00, 7:30 am depending on the hospital, the day staff come in to replace the night staff.
So yeah, breakfast starts around 8:00 to 8:30 for the patients but before that the day staff come in and we have to give them a report, like a handover, of what happened in the night time.
So, yeah, actually I’m a nurse, so I’m…
in the hospital, you’ve got nurses, doctors another name for them is psychiatrists, er, occupational therapists, and social workers, and the cleaners, and support workers and the managers.
So I’m one of the nurses, so sometimes I have to give that report to the day staff.
And then it’s time for us to go home.
So if it’s a good night, you know, say thanks to my staff, who I’ve worked with, a nice one! Good job! See you later! See, you know, if you’re coming again, to work tonight, see you tonight, and you’ve got a good buzz, like if nothing’s happened, like if all the patients were safe.
If you got away with, you know, a quiet night, it feels good, it’s a good sense of achievement.
So after that, I get on my bike, and it’s the bike, bike ride home.
Now it’s the opposite, I’m going home and it’s rush hour for people going to work in the morning.
You know, the streets [are] all busy this time, all the traffic’s going in the opposite direction, they’re all going into the town, and I’m going out of the town.
Again as I said Brighton’s really hilly, so there’s some big hills where you have to climb up and there’s some big downhill sections.
And probably because I’ve worked all night my head is a bit of a mess, and like because it’s been busy and I’m frazzled.
Sometimes I love the journey downhill, like it’s probably dangerous, I’ve got my earphones on, I’m listening to loud music there’s more cars on the road, I’m kind of flying down the hill on my bike, I’ve got a buzz as well from work, like it’s finished, did okay like all the patients were alright.
And then I get in the house, try and have a shower first thing.
Because hospital work can be quite sweaty, and you can kind of smell a bit, and unfortunately, yeah, you know, yeah you can get dirty doing hospital work, because sometimes you do have to get your hands dirty, doing one thing or another.
And then to get myself all washed up have some breakfast, and go to bed.
I mean that’s a very simplified version, I mean one thing I’d say, is that if I’m going to bed by 10:00 am or 11:00 am it’s hard to actually sleep.
So you’ve been awake since maybe 8 pm or 7:30 pm 7 pm the evening before with the daylight I’ve heard scientists say it’s hard to sleep when there’s sunshine.
You know, I’ve worked at night for quite a long time and that is probably the biggest drawback, is that your sleep can get a bit messed up, you know it’s hard to sleep in the day, so you have to have a really dark room you know try not to listen to music or watch TV before going to bed.
Definitely, try not to look at your mobile phone because that would just keep you awake.
And it’s really important to get to sleep, especially if you’ve got to work again that night.
If you get home at 10:00 am or get home into bed by 10:00 am you want to sleep as long as possible until the afternoon or evening before work.
Okay, that’s a bit of a summary of working at night in the hospital. And there is a few more things I could say about it, but I’ll probably tell you next time if that’s okay?
Anyway, I’d really love to hear about…any jobs that you’ve done especially if you’ve worked at night. So please if you found anything interesting or you want to tell me your own story about working at night, please leave me a comment on everydaylanguage.net
my emails on there that’s markadmin@everyday language dot net, yeah and thanks for listening, hope this has been interesting. And as I say, if you’ve got any questions about the language I’ve used or any aspects of…or anything I’ve talked about, about working at night please let me know.
And please tell me your own stories about working, I’d be really interested to hear about them. Ok, thanks very much bye.
Nursing night shift vocabulary and expressions
to be frazzled – to be worn out
chit-chat – having a talk with friends or colleagues in an informal manner.
the handover – the report that is given between different nursing shifts about the patient’s condition and any jobs that need to be done in the next shift, results of tests etc.
having a buzz – feeling good, having a good feeling.
doing one thing or another – euphemism/vague expression to express an action or actions that you don’t want to explicitly define.
Mr A: What were you doing?
Mr B: I was doing one thing or another.
observations – the system of observing the patients and recording their whereabouts and activity from a health care point of view. often shortened to obs
arm’s length observations/obs
hourly observations/obs also known as general observations; standard observations.
Instrumental music at beginning and end of the show from Hyde – free instruments.
Working in Japan as an English teacher