Steve, Senior healthcare assistant

Steve is a senior healthcare assistant working in the emergency department at Exeter hospital. Find out more about his role, why he decided to change careers and why he thinks working in health and care is so fulfilling.

My job is very varied – we deal with all ages and all aspects of care.

My job is different every day. Working in the emergency department means that I help provide all basic care for patients who come in. This can include taking bloods, cannulation and personal care, as well as working on the COVID wards, in the muscular-skeletal unit doing wound care and plaster and in the cardiac arrest team. It also often involves aspects of mental health care as well.

Working in the emergency department is so diverse, no day is the same and you treat people of all ages.

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How did you get into a job in health and social care?

Before working in health and social care, I had a job spray-painting cars, which I did for over 20 years but, after developing occupational asthma, I had to stop.

I worked as a support worker in the community for around six years, working with adults with mental health, challenging behaviour and learning difficulties.  At first this was on a voluntary basis, but I then moved to a permanent position.

I then worked in my local hospital in a number of roles where I completed my care certificate and level three NVQ, before joining the emergency department around two years ago. Currently, alongside work, I’m also studying for my assistant practitioner foundation degree, which I will finish next year.

If the opportunity arose, I’d like to go on and study to become a registered nurse. This would mean applying to do another 18-month course at university to complete top-up units.

This isn’t a normal 9-5 job.

This definitely isn’t your normal 9-5 job, it’s so varied and you see so many different things compared to working on a ward.

You need to understand other people’s needs and what they require. I would say that care and compassion are two of the most important things – you need to really want to be there.

Being able to help someone or even change their life is so fulfilling.

I enjoy the challenges of the job and being able to meet so many interesting people. Being able to improve or change someone’s life is so fulfilling. I liked my previous job, but I just didn’t get the same feeling as do in my current role. You can’t buy the experiences and how I feel about my job now.

There are challenges, and for me one of the hardest bits of the job is the changes in computer systems and how they interact with other providers and patients.

At the moment COVID is also a big challenge. Having to wear PPE for a whole shift and change it each time we see a different patient is very time consuming. Things are constantly evolving day- to-day and as we learn we are constantly having to adapt.

Everyone is there to support each other as a team.

People often get a certain impression of what it’s like working in an emergency department and can be quite nervous about it. The good thing is that everyone is there to support each other. You go through a lot with your colleagues and there are always meetings and de-briefs where you can reflect and talk about things that have been hard.

My family are all really supportive.

My family are all really supportive – between doing some long shifts and studying it is a big part of family life (my wife also works in health and care).

During COVID, I’ve found that everyone has been a lot more aware and understanding of the challenges we face.

Go for it – you won’t find the same feeling anywhere else.

I’d have to say to anyone considering working in health and care to just go for it! It is really rewarding, and you won’t find that same feeling anywhere else.

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