Shannon, 19, writes, "I went to
Hummersknott school, Darlington, getting good GCSE results but knew
'A' levels weren't for me so took the level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma
in Health & Social Care, at Darlington College, which I passed
"At 18 I didn't feel ready for university, so wasn't quite sure
what to do. A few weeks later, I saw an advert on Facebook
for health care assistant (HCA) apprentice posts at the Trust,
while at a wedding! I was so excited I completed the
application on the spot (don't tell the bride!) and was invited for
interview shortly afterwards. I'm quite shy and quiet but the
interviewers were very friendly, putting me at ease and it was
really informal. They were as interested in my character as
well as my qualifications.
"I was at home when Nikki Brodhurst rang offering me a
place a couple of weeks later!
"The staff on ward 52, where I started in October 2015, made me
feel so welcome and I spent several months shadowing the health
care assistants (HCAs) - learning daily routines. I've been a
fully-fledged HCA since March, which is when I completed the
apprenticeship, remaining on ward 52 where I feel so at home -
thanks to Norman Devlin and his team. We're with patients
almost constantly and become attuned to any changes in behaviour or
condition, which we report to nurses. We get the patients
ready for breakfast and help those who need it with feeding, then
to get washed and dressed. If anyone needs support getting to the
toilet, I'm there to help. As the day ends, we assist with
the bedtime routine - as well as all the activity in between!
I'm trained in turning patients to avoid pressure sores (using the
brilliant ReDi Slide!) and in the particular needs of patients with
dementia. I try always to be gentle, kind and to have a smile
on my face.
"Each week I do two, 13-hour, and one seven hour, shift. I
go home with a sense of achievement, feeling valued and that I've
made a difference - it's a great feeling!
"I still aspire to be a midwife and feel my HCA background will
be an excellent supplement to that training. When I feel
ready, I'll apply to a local university in the hope I can continue
my career with the Trust where I've been made so
'As I was very, very nervous, I must have been the worst patient
ever and they were brilliant with me and I can't thank them enough
- could you please pass on my sincere thanks.'
Patient, Hysteroscopy Unit, Chester-le-Street Community