My Apprenticeship Journey
My Apprenticeship Journey
How did you begin your career within the NHS?
I started my career in the NHS at the age of fifty, having left a career in engineering. I began volunteering at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust on Elsing Ward, which was then a Dementia Care unit. I assisted with carrying out meaningful activities with the patients and became frustrated that I did not have the skills to help the ward staff more. This in turn led me to look for work experience placements as I had no real healthcare experience. Luckily Norfolk Community Health & Care NHS Trust offered me two weeks work experience on Alder Ward, where I shadowed and helped the Healthcare Assistants. At the end of this two weeks I was fast-tracked to the Temporary Workers Service/Bank and became a Band 2 Healthcare Assistant. When an Apprenticeship for an Apprentice Therapy Assistant was advertised, I applied – never expecting to be considered – however I was successful and began an 18-month Apprenticeship working alongside Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists at Foxley Ward at Dereham Hospital.
What training did you do as part of your Apprenticeship?
During my Apprenticeship I completed my Level 2 Healthcare Support Worker diploma, Care Certificate, and Level 2 Functional Skills in Maths. I also was the first Apprentice within the Trust to complete an End Point Assessment, which is now a requirement for all Apprenticeships, to confirm that I am competent at my role.
What happened after your initial Apprenticeship position?
After passing my Apprenticeship training and gaining 18 months experience on a ward, I had the required qualifications to apply for a Band 3 Therapy Assistant role and was successful in obtaining the role. I started full time working at Wymondham Community Hospital (Ogden Court) supporting the Physio and Occupational Therapist with Patients rehabilitation.
I have continued to learn and gain confidence in the role – supported by my line supervisors and have attended courses and continue to work through the ‘Core Competencies’ of both B3 and B4 therapy roles.
I have recently (Feb 2021) started a secondment (short term contract to cover Maternity leave) as discharge Co-Ordinator (B4) on the ward , this role is very different from my ‘normal’ job however gives me further opportunity to improve my skill set and gain experience in the Systems and Operational side of the hospital trust. At time of writing, I am due to return to my Therapy Assistant role at the end of October 2021.
What does your role entail?
My role is to support both Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy on the ward. The unit predominantly looks after elderly and frail patients and those with long term conditions. The team strive to improve patient’s mobility and independence in activities of daily living following falls, fractures, or a general decline. My day starts with a brief hand over with the Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapist of the 21 patients; this includes plans for discharge and patients’ goals for rehabilitation. This sets my priorities for the day – this may include washing and dressing assessments for patients who are regaining independence, carrying out prescribed exercises or speaking to families to gain background information about a patient’s home environment I.E. access, furniture heights, stairs, how they will manage their medication etc). The role also requires building a rapport with patients and the wider team to get an overall view of how well an individual would manage when discharged, and the level of help required if able to return home.
What are some of the challenges in your role and how do you deal with them?
You must have a level of resilience to work in care – not all patients are able to complete their rehabilitation and regain their previous baseline and some sadly have conditions that are too advanced to make intervention appropriate. The fact that I get to work with some truly inspiring NHS staff and make some small difference to people far out-weighs the ‘hard’ days though. This is without doubt the most rewarding job I have had, and I still find myself in disbelief that I am part of therapy team!
What is some advice you would give to someone looking to start their career in the NHS?
If I could give any advice – If I can do then I’m pretty sure anyone can! The NHS and NCHC offers support throughout training and you get to be a part of a real ‘family’ of people whose main goal is to improve the wellbeing of others. Try it – you’ll love it!