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Shannon Hunter - health care assistant

Shannon Hunter

  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 in 2015. 

"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 welcome." 

'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 Hospital