Review – A Day in Hell: A Direct Care Manifesto

A Day in Hell: A Direct Care Manifesto – Wayne Holmes

a day in hell

A short ebook that details a “day in the life” of an assistant manager in a direct care facility.

Completely ignoring the choice of title, there were a lot of relatable things in the short book. Holmes states that the things written about in this book, whilst (in a sense) fictional, were amalgamations of or based on real events that have happened to him. Anyone who works in a setting where autistic children are moved to after other settings have failed them horribly, will find something to relate to in this short book. They will also, unfortunately, be able to relate to the criticisms Holmes levels at senior management and society in general concerning the standards and expectations in these sorts of settings.

Within five minutes of his arrival, Nil managed to punch a male staff in the groin, pull down a female staff’s shirt, throw hard plastic toys at other children, and run behind a couch where he quickly pulled down his pants, urinated and defecated on the floor, picked up the feces, took a bite and said, “You wanna eat my poooo?”

The things Holmes writes about do happen, but it’s not something that’s generally spoken about. When it is people are often accused of lying or exaggerating. Or they are blamed and told it must be their fault that the child behaved the way they did. From my experience, there are often times when staff are at fault and the main reason for this, as Holmes mentions, is complete lack of training. People are often just thrown into the setting with minimal explanation let alone appropriate training and expect to deal with complex situations. When they don’t know what to do, violent behaviour can arise. Those staff then quit because they’re not hanging around to be punched and bitten for minimum wage, then the whole cycle starts again. It’s not every staff member obviously, not by far, but it’s enough to be too many.

Holmes isn’t especially PC in his writing, what he writes will probably get some people’s backs up. It also seems from what he’s writing that he doesn’t have a wealth of experience with autistic children, and hasn’t received appropriate training, which means that sometimes he can end up contributing to the problem. The book suffers from the fact that it is only 51 pages long – a longer book would have been able to delve deeper into the problems such as poor training, poor management support, and lack of consistency, and would have helped give a better balance to the book overall. Without it, Holmes does come across as a man more concerned with getting to the end of his shift than teaching, supporting, or helping the young people in his care, and that is a shame because this book could explore these problems quite deeply and from an inside perspective.

Is it worth reading?

If you work in a similar setting it might be – but the book isn’t very long and doesn’t explore the wider context enough. Autistic people and family members might not get much out of it.

Value for money?

At the time of writing this was free on Kindle, so yes.

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