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The 5 Best Ways to Appreciate your Healthcare Assistants

Matt B

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Healthcare assistants are an essential part of the Nursing team, they do a fantastic job and are the unsung heroes of healthcare. 

Please don’t forget to appreciate your healthcare assistants, clinical support workers or carers – stop and say Thank you.

Help whenever possible

Nurses are always busy, from the moment their feet hit the floor until their shift has finished. Healthcare assistants are usually just as busy, running from one patient to the next and answering buzzers – don’t underestimate their workload.

Just because your workload has eased doesn’t mean the rest of the team isn’t struggling.

Help with observations, personal care or changing bed linen as often an you can. Not only will this show them you care, it keeps you in touch with basic care and you’ll earn the respect of everybody around you. 

Listen to their observations

It is usually a healthcare assistant who notices when a patient ‘just doesn’t look right’. If they notice a patient is acting funny, their observations are changing, or something just isn’t right, it is the nurse’s job to respect that observation and investigate.

The assessment of a patient is one of those tasks that cannot be delegated, but this doesn’t mean that a care assistant can’t notice problems and escalate them to you. Ignoring these escalations could lead to poorer patient outcomes and a sense of disrespect for the healthcare assistant.

You should empower your healthcare assistants to be your eyes and ears. If they think something if wrong – listen and investigate. 

Appreciate their skill-set

Healthcare assistants and clinical support workers have started to undertake lot of advanced roles for little or no extra reward; venepuncture, cannulation, ECGs, catheterisation, feeding, wound assessments, pressure area care – list is endless.

If they help you out by doing one of these for you, make sure you say thank you. Generally these ‘extra roles’ are not within their job description so are performing these tasks out of choice.

Treat them as one of the team

You communicate with the doctors, the patients, the family, and other nurses, but how well do you communicate with your healthcare assistants?

Care assistants are a vital part of the team, not only for the work they do and the observations they make, but because the whole system would fall apart without them.

There is no proverbial ‘i’ in team.

Include healthcare assistants in care planning and ask their opinion. They have a wealth of knowledge that should be respected. See ‘Listen to their observations’. 

Don’t take them for granted

Nurses know very well what it is like to have someone look past you, to feel like you don’t matter, and that your input isn’t valuable or welcome.

Healthcare assistants are the backbone of the NHS. They are responsible for the dirtiest jobs, the most difficult ratios, and get the least amount of pay and respect.

Nurses don’t like to be taken for granted by doctors and management. Passing this cycle of disrespect down the chain of command doesn’t help anyone and makes people feel undervalued. 

Say ‘Thank You’

Those two words mean a lot!

A simple ‘thank you’ lifts the morale of, not only the healthcare assistants, but your whole team. It can make a massive difference even after those exhausting shifts. 

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Adam Kay’s Letter to the Secretary of State for Health

Matt B

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Adam Kay, a former Doctor, publishes an open letter to the Secretary of State for Health calling for him to walk a mile in the shoes of a junior doctor.

In his new book, ‘This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor,’ the former obstetrics and gynaecology doctor writes candidly about his experiences as a junior doctor and the effect working in medicine has on both his personal and professional life.

In the open letter to The Secretary of State for Health, he said;

“Roger Fisher was a professor of law at Harvard University, who suggested back in 1981 that they should implant the American nuclear codes in the heart of a volunteer. If the President wanted to press the big red button and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, then first he’d have to take a butcher’s knife and dig it out of the volunteer’s chest himself; so that he realizes what death actually means first-hand, and understands the implications of his actions. Because the President would never press the button if he had to do that.

“Similarly, you and your successor and their successors for ever more should have to work some shifts alongside junior doctors. Not the thing you already do, where a chief executive shows you round a brand-new ward that’s gleaming like a space station. No: palliate a cancer patient; watch a trauma victim have their leg amputated; deliver a dead baby. Because I defy any human being, even you, to know what the job really entails and question a single doctor’s motivation. If you knew, you would be applauding them, you’d be proud of them, you’d be humbled by them, and you’d be eternally grateful for everything they do.

“The way you treat junior doctors demonstrably doesn’t work. I strongly suggest you seek a second opinion.

If you’re interested in reading more, you can buy a copy of his book on Amazon or book tickets for his ongoing tour.

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The Junior Doctors Survival Guide written by Nurses

Matt B

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Well done. Congratulations. You’ve survived medical school and made it ‘on to the shop floor’, this is where the real test begins.

Your first few weeks as a Junior Doctor are going to be difficult and jam-packed; a new hospital, new colleagues, new patients, and a new hospital system to figure out.

Here are ten tips that will stand you in good stead for your first day, week, month, year and beyond. This is your Junior Doctors Survival Guide as written by Nurses;

  • Respect the nurses. You can come to us for advice and guidance – we will have you back – but please don’t take us for granted. We have an abundance of knowledge about our patients, the hospital and how to make stuff happen.
  • Each member of the team is important. Doctors, nurses, porters, physiotherapists, domestics, estates, plumbers – the hospital simply couldn’t function without them.
  • Don’t be a smart arse. We know and understand you have worked hard through medical school and congratulations on becoming a Doctor, but now it’s time to get to work.
  • Have a sense of humor. Make sure your able to have a laugh and a joke but be careful not to cross the line.
  • Master cannulation. I don’t just mean know how to put a cannula in – develop the skill and master it – it will stand you in good stead for the future.
  • Eat and drink. The list of jobs is, and always will be, almost endless. Make sure you take your breaks; eat, drink and chat to your fellow colleagues.
  • Show emotion. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s going to be hard – medical school hasn’t prepared you for the first few months of life as a Doctor. If you’re having an especially tough day talk to someone about it. Don’t beat yourself up for having a little cry – it happens to the best of us.
  • Don’t just look at the numbers. We spend 12 hours a day with our patient, we will come to you when “something just isn’t right”, we don’t know what, we can’t put our finger on it. But, we know our patients.
  • Your first death is hard. Expected or not, nothing can prepare you for the death of your first patient. We have all been through this. See- show emotion and How to Deal with the Death of a patient
  • Tidy up after yourself. Nothing and I mean nothing, annoys the ward staff more than a Doctor who thinks the staff are there to clean up after them. Tidy away your sharps, notes and coffee cup.
  • Ask for help. Your seniors are there to support you – it’s literally their job. Don’t be afraid to escalate patients or situations to them and never put yourself in a situation where you have no backup.
  • Admit when you simply don’t know. Making up an answer to a question can have serious consequences. If you don’t know. Say, but find out.
  • Try to go home on time. Look through your list – find out what can wait until tomorrow. Your downtime and social life are important too (check out our list of NHS Discounts for downtime ideas). You work to live not live to work.
  • The hospital at night is scary. There are fewer doctors, nurses and seniors around to support you. Call for help early and escalate appropriately.

Remember, you are part of our team. Our job is to work together in the interests of patient care. We will try to look after you, make you tea when you’re sad and, rest assured, we will tell you when you’re being an idiot.

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