I know I said I wouldn’t double-post, or at least, not immediately, but bother that, here goes.
Apparently I never did mention here that way back in February I went to interview at, oddly, the central building of our student village (they have various function rooms there so I guess it makes sense, and it did mean I could just hop out of bed, brush my hair, find a clean top and smart trousers and be at my interview ten minutes after first remembering that it was happening. I jest, I jest, of course I remembered, but I was still late, of course). Anyway, the interview was for a bank position with NHS Professionals.
NHS Professionals, just in case you don’t know, which you probably don’t, is a brilliant scheme someone thought up – basically a bank of nurses and care support workers (me!) and such. You have to do a days Mandatory Training every year and you also have to do at least one shift in any 12 month period in order to continue to be employed by them. But you get to choose when and where you work, how many shifts you do, the whole shebang. And by ‘where’ I don’t literally just mean that I can pick between any of the three hospitals in this city, or even just that I can choose which kind of ward I work in – not only that, but I get to pick my trust as well, which means that this week I could do some shifts in University Town, and next week I could be in Home Town doing some work there, and while this week could be all feeding and cleaning up after old people, next week could be in a maternity ward, or in intensive care, or working with an operating theatre, or rehabilitation adn physiotherapy.
Sure, there’s not much that, as a care support worker, I am qualified to do – although more than I was expecting, to be honest, which is almost a little daunting, but I can watch and listen and learn and be right in the middle of things and basically, I am just so disproportionately excited.
Not only that, but my uniform looks and feels like pyjamas. Big white sloppy top, flappy white trousers. Ahhhh…
As for my training day, well, I turned up at the wrong hospital and missed the first hour. Bloody typical. However having got there we were straight into moving and handling training – how to get someone from sitting to standing without putting your back out; learning to just Let People FALL if that’s what they’re going to do – seemingly harsh, but if you get injured you could be out of work for months, years, or never able to do care support again, which has massive implications for you, and for the hospital who have to find someone fast to cover for you (not so much of a problem in NHSP – because you can book onto shifts literally hours in advance, and it’s not as if they literally have to find a new you, because you’re just one of hundreds or thousands in this bank), and well, the patient’s ill already, aren’t they? Well, no, that’s not it, more that they’re less likely to get hurt if you jsut try to control their fall than they are if you literally try to stop them from falling in the first place.
Then we had to learn to use the various hoists and stand-aids and such that we’re likely to come across. I don’t know if any of you know what I mean when I say hoists and stand-aids, but the links link to pictures of each (the ‘hoists’ link actually has an image of a stand-aid inset as well, but it’s pretty small; actually, both linked images are pretty small, sorry). Anyway, a hoist is used to get a patient from bed to chair/commode/wheelchair and back again if they’re completely unable to move themselves, and you have to slide a ‘sling’, somewhat like a hammock, underneath them, turning them onto one side then the other in order to get it underneath them. The sling has loops on it coming from between the legs and down the sides of the body, and then you hook said loops onto the actual machine, which has a remote control and therefore does all the lifting for you, slinging your patient up in the air, in a sack. Hardly dignified, or all that comfortable, really – and because of the design of the thing this process is likely to make your patient defecate (which is why there is actually a hole in the bottom of the sling), so you have to have a bedpan ready. Remind me never to get that ill. Being a ‘patient’ in this scenario (we had to practice hoisting one another about) was a horrible experience, becuase, of course, you have literally no control over the situation. You’ve got two care assistants to manouevre you into this machine and then into your chair, and you’re just ocmpletely reduced by the situation into a thing, however nicely and chattily the care assistants may talk to you. Sad times.
A stand-aid, of course, is used to get patients into a standing position so that you can easily transfer them, again, from chair to bed and bed to chair, but the patient has to have at least minimal mobility to use it – they must be able to lift their feet upon instruction and place them on the footbeds of the machine, then you strap their knees into the machine too, put a sling under their arms around the back and hook it onto the handles, get them to hang on, too, and you’re away; and good god but being in that thing is painful. If you can’t put much weight on your legs then you’re swinging from your armpits and because your legs are further forward basically you’re dragging down on your spine and stretching it out, which is singularly uncomfortable. And you look like an ape, of course, with your knees all bent. Not elegant or ladylike at all, trussed up and strapped in. We then did the whole ‘what to do if you come across someone apparently unconscious on the street bit’, with the whole check for danger, try and elicit a response, call for help, check airways and breathing then start compressions and mouth-to-mouth bit, and had a very entertaining fire talk where the guy giving the talk then let off assorted fire extinguishers. And that was my day. Long journey home, and then straight back out again not long afterwards… .
Some of the other girls there already work in the hospital were talking about all of this patient care thing like what I just ranted on about innit before I got distracted (‘ooh! Fire extinguishers! RescusciAnne the breathing, dying doll!’), and then we moved on to how so many doctors completely ignore both the care assistants and the patients they’re supposed to be looking after, treating them as a problem to be solved or even as a nuisance, rather than a person with a complaint who admittedly may not have the communication skills they should have. More and more throughout the day I couldn’t help thinking, I never want to end up in hospital as a patient, for any reason, except, you know, to give birth (none of that home-birth/underwater/drug-free nonsense for me, thanks very much, I want all the epidurals and gas and air and things you can get me. Irrelevant. Moving on). At the same time, being a misty-eyed wannabe doctor I cannot help but love the hospital environment and all the things that happen there, for reasons I’m not sure I can put into words; and hopefully this will be very good work experience for me (and should mean that I’ll never turn into one of Those Doctors that all the nurses and patients hate, not that I think I would anyway because clearly I am lovely) as well as very cockle-warming pay (put it this way, if I work a Sunday six-hour shift I’ll come home with 90 pounds, or just over half that if I worked the same shift the next day, either of which is fantastic and = a new pair of shoes every week, if I want, or a car (if I decide to ruin the world myself, and I save up and budget and things), a new bike (mine got stolen, remember?), a piano, millions of DVDs, or new clothes from Adili or somewhere. So if I work just a couple of shifts each week, which I can easily make time for, my life will be a lot easier).
That was far too many brackets. I should stop writing, publish, and get me down to labs. I slept through my lectures this morning but they were on stuff I’ve already revised so that’s OK, yes?
And at some point I must write about my housemate’s HipHop Society Show, Phat Beatz, because it was amazing. Wait, did I already? Christ, I need some sleep…