Meet Carol Ayton, Health Care Assistant – Newham Hospital

My name is Carol and I have been working in Newham General Hospital as a Health Care Assistant for 12 years.

I spent 11 years at home looking after my children. As they got older and went to school a friend of mine told me Newham General Hospital were recruiting for people to work on the wards looking after patients. At the time they were giving out applications forms and holding information sessions about the role and guidance on completing application forms. I didn’t need any previous experience for the job as they were offering on the job training. I had to demonstrate I had the qualities and skills to look after people.

When I started my job I did a six weeks placement around the different departments. This helped me to familiarise myself with the different areas of work and the departments. I had to spend a couple days to a week in the departments and attend training sessions during the induction period. I was then placed in my ward of choice working mainly with women in gynaecology.

My average working week is 34.5 hours. I work 12 hour shifts from 7.30am to 8am or at night from 7.30pm with days off in between.

During a morning shift I will come in and have a handover from the night staff. I’m told how many in patients there are, their health needs and anything that happened over the night. On the ward there are normally three registered nurses and two health care assistants. We are allocated patients during our shift and work with one of the registered nurses.

After the handover I usually start off on the ward making the patient’s bed, help with breakfast and assist them with any washes and hygiene requirements. In my role you need to have an open mind and understand every patient matters. You will be cleaning people who have no or limited mobility. Some inpatients have been here for days and you build relationships with people. The care becomes normal routine and you realise they are only people like you and me.

After 9am I take and record the patients blood pressure. I will do this as a routine 3 times during the shift. Also blood pressure is taken regularly for new patients coming in and patients coming from theatre. For the rest of my shift I look after patients with their health needs and help them if they are in pain or discomfort.

During the day there are other day patients who come in for Day surgery. We have a list of day care patients and when they come in I record their details and prepare them for theatre. I physically help the patient on to the bed, take them to theatre and when they come back they are ready for aftercare and discharge. During a shift I will look after 7 in-patients but as we work in teams I can be looking after up to 14 in-patients. There are other regular patients who may come in for a couple of hours a day for things like iron transfusion and injections.

Not every day will be the same.

I’m happy doing my job and working for the Trust. I get satisfaction out of helping people, talking to people and I can have a laugh with them. It’s touching when someone is really pleased because I have taken the time to talk to them.

I live near the hospital and I plan to stay in my role. There are opportunities to progress on to different roles through clinical apprenticeships and nursing associate programmes but at the moment I am happy in my role.

Top tip
You don’t always need to have experience to start your careers in health care, as long as you have a caring nature and want to help people take a chance and apply for the role. You will get training on the job!

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