Health Care Assistants

What we do as Health Care Assistants (HCAs)

We help to provide the best possible care to our patients and residents.

We work together as a part of a multidisciplinary team. For example, at mealtimes, we might liaise with registered nurses, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists to ensure we follow the correct guidelines and stay on top of any changes.

Part of our role is to encourage patients to be as independent as possible, including making their own choices about their care – whether we agree with these or not.

We encourage our patients and residents to eat and drink and will always support patients in going out into the community (shops, cafes, and so on). We always treat patients and residents how we would want to be treated, with respect and dignity.

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Reminiscences from a HCA

Ann Pearson has been a Health Care Assistant with us at the hospital for several years. She has shared these memories with us of life in Wellesley Ward, one of the hospital’s neuro-behavioural units.

The day hospital was a great place to work. I felt I could be myself and the patients wanted me to be. I would say it was like one big family. The jokes and the laughs that we had, including with the domestic, Monica, who the patients adored – she would have them crying with laughter…!

We had a patient before lockdown, an ex-footballer. His mother was lovely and supportive of the staff. When I heard he stood up from his chair and walked, I didn’t believe it until I saw it with my own two eyes. His mother cried. It was beautiful to see that big smile on his face, that cheeky smile!

I remember Paul who had worked at the RHN since he was 16 (he is now retired) telling everybody at lunchtime that his teacher told him to stand up and recite his maths timetable. He didn’t quite understand and told her “my mummy has a table, my auntie has a table, my cousin has a table”. The patients died of laughter – you just had to be there!

We had a patient who had been on our ward for many years. Some of us remember meeting her children when they were young. Nice family – it was like you were going on the journey with them all. No, you shouldn’t have favourites, but she was one of mine. My colleague, Toe, got her to say words and when he would try to be funny, she would be laughing hysterically. When she passed away the Hospital supported us to go to the funeral. The husband and son even picked us up from the station which was something we didn’t want. And I’m not joking, it was one of the nicest funerals – they made us feel like family. I still miss her at times.

I remember one patient who had a cat. I hated that cat, which she knew but she found it so funny. We had to take her into the living room and set things up so that she would be safe. I remember this “thing” jumping towards me and me knocking it out of the way. The cat was fine but the patient found it hysterical as I ran out of the house. The staff never told me about that cat. They like to play tricks like that, especially on the new people!

Nurse Benji would throw some great parties. She would rope in all the staff to help – they were sometimes there till 10 at night preparing the party for the patients and their families. The food was delicious – patients, their relatives, and even staff throughout the Hospital would come and eat all the food.

I remember a young mother on Drapers whose kids visited, not knowing that they had brought lice in. We would help her to stand without an aid so had to get quite close to her. When we found out later on in the day, one of the staff’s relatives brought in the shampoo. And most of us had it on our heads with plastic covers while still attending to patients and feeling itchy! Though I didn’t have it, it was just the feeling!

We had another young guy who was from Gibraltar. He had a fantastic relationship with one of the staff, Toe, who has this weird funny sense of humour that the patients love. The patient’s mother would be there most of the time. We felt very sorry for her by herself, she was lovely. Staff would go out of their way for her. I remember a few patients and her son went out for a meal at the pub. We saw a different side of her, she felt relaxed and, in her words, she felt she could trust us. We all had a good laugh.