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A day in the life of a healthcare assistant

I'm Amy and I'm a healthcare assistant working in Health in Justice.

Ten years in service and not one day the same...

You would expect a typical day as a healthcare assistant to consist of assisting the nursing team in small clinics and one on one patient care, however being a prison healthcare assistant is very different. You must have the ability to work autonomously, have good time keeping skills and be an excellent team player with a good sense of humour.

The day starts for me at 9am. I see between 1-10 patients for a discharge clinic to discuss all the issues they may face upon release from custody. My job is to ensure all the medication is prescribed prior to release and follow up appointments are in place.

Here are the duties I am responsible for:

  • Emergency responses - I work with an excellent nursing and paramedic team. They are always the first to respond to any blue code (not breathing) or red code (self harm) and I will respond as necessary to assist with equipment, paper work or anything they need. However it can sometimes be different - for example I came to work one particular morning and before I'd even had a chance to put my bag in my locker I had to run to a response. This involved one prisoner and two injured officers. The response lasted more than three hours, following this there were a further two incidents. Being the first on the scene as a healthcare assistant is a very daunting task, however working in a custodial environment gives you the skills to deal with incidents, as it may only be you that can make the decision.
  • Secondary dispensing of medication
  • General clinic – INR, general observations, follow ups, clinic letters for hospital referrals etc.
  • Wound management  
  • Vaccinations
  • Phlebotomy
  • Bowel cancer screening - it is vital that I keep up to date and on track with patient care from the community to custody, continuity of care is vital in a custodial environment.
  • Substance misuse – after working closely with the substance misuse team for many years assisting with observations and care planning for patients with substance misuse issues such as alcoholics and drug users, I decided to widen my skills in physical health. With a team from healthcare and the prison I helped build and deliver a smoke free service at HMP & YOI Doncaster which came into force January 2018 with much success, currently offering Nicorette patches and group work to patients on a weekly basis.
  • Infection control - being the lead in IPC, it is important that I monitor all areas to ensure they are kept up to date and clean – a weekly inspection is carried out and reported for actions. I deliver regular training and updates to all staff and inform them of changes and updates in service.  
  • Training - I deliver all the training for hand hygiene and Methasoft (Methadone dispensing system) training to all staff and provide regular updates and assist with any issues or problems staff may face.    

All of my duties are self-led but any problems I face there is always someone to help, whether it be another healthcare assistant, admin, pharmacy technician, nurse, paramedic, advanced nurse practitioner, doctor or management.

I love my job and don’t see myself doing anything else.

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