What is it like to be Health Care Assistant in the UK?
I have now been working within the NHS as a Health Care Assitant for just over three months now. Within those three short months, I have learned so much, from taking clinical observations on patients, making beds (including those important hospital folds) to now enrolling myself on a Venipuncture and Cannulation course.
You would think, being a Health Care Assistant there would be countless clinical tasks which are restricted for you to complete, although this is true to some extent, it is not completely accurate. With the right training, you can complete more ward based procedures and support the registered nursing staff even more.
If you have a passion to learn and progress your career, employers are usually willing to facilitate extra-curricular education. Like the organisation I now work for, they offer great courses you can usually freely enroll on to. Since starting, I had to complete all essential training first, as without this I would be restricted to work on the wards then I was allowed to enroll onto further fields of study.
Moving on! What is it actually like to work on a busy hospital ward you ask? Well… of course, there are hard days, but what job doesn’t have the odd tough day. I think, when you have a great team, no matter what the circumstance, you can usually pull through. Being a Health Care Assistant, a lot of learning is done on the job – which I find the best way to learn, in my opinion. To begin with, I had to ask a lot of questions – and still do. What is important to remember is, never be afraid to ask for something or ask for something to be shown to you. Usually, someone will be willing to help!
When I start my shift, I first want to get an idea of who I will be caring for that day. Having a hand-over sheet with you at all times is crucial. When in doubt, you can glance at this to find out, for example, the mobility of a patient, the reason they were admitted and sometimes dietary requirements.
Then depending on when I start my shift, I may start to make breakfast for patients, change bedding, feed and wash patients and carry out some clinical observations i.e. take blood pressure, temperature etc. After this, I may sit down and complete patients comfort rounds and other documentation including behavior reports and fluid charts.
After 2-3 hours of working, I would probably take a small break to get something to drink. As a Health Care Assistant, a lot of what we do is then repeated throughout the day, countless times depending on our patient’s needs.
Depending on staffing levels, usually, I would look after 8-10 patients. Realistically, that is more than enough patients to care for. If I have to care for any more, it can be a tad tricky, especially if there are numerous patients under my care which need assistance going to the toilet and have mobility restrictions. Sometimes I have no other option but to get on with what is at hand, but if I begin to struggle with the workload, and perhaps patients are not getting the care they need and deserve – I would inform a senior member of staff on the ward, as patient safety is paramount!
Usually, two or three times during my shift I would change patients position to prevent bed sores however I may do this more or less often depending on the patients specific needs.
On some occasions, I may be asked to escort a patient with a porter to a different area of the hospital or to radiology.
To conclude, as you can see there is quite a lot involved as a Health Care Assistant. I enjoy my job, but like I said there can be challenging days, but you can always get around those small hiccups.