Back to the floor - HCA induction

I go back to the floor twice a month to find out what it’s like for our patients to be treated here, what it’s like for our staff to work here and to see if there is anything I can do to make it better place for both patients and staff. Our hospitals are enormous places and not all of our staff knows what happens in different departments so part of my blog is also aimed at making it a bit easier to understand for our staff, our governors, our volunteers and anyone else who reads it! I hope my blog gives you a tiny flavour of the fabulousness that I see!

Quite often I am able to be hands on when I go back to the floor and when I do it is usually in the capacity of a Health Care Assistant (HCA) so the team decided it was time for me to have a bit of formal training and to see just how much our HCAs do in their roles. So I attended part of the HCA Induction programme.

The HCA Induction programme is planned by our HCA Training Officers, Amanda Hones and Charlotte Backhouse. Tom Heathcote, practice educator also supports many of the induction sessions.   We are fortunate to have lots of other people contributing to the sessions like for example the infection control team, Oral Health Promotion Officers and Health and Safety team.

The programme is for all newly appointed HCA’s. The 8 day programme is run every month, last year we did 2 programmes in some months to keep up with the increased recruitment. In 2014 the team took 208 learners through this programme which usually has 16 HCAs on each one.

HCA Induction The induction includes both practical and theory sessions. The day that I took part in was the basic nursing care skills session, which included the use of simulated kit. This is used to help the learners understand the process of ageing and some of the difficulties that our patients may encounter and how HCA’s can provide the best care for those patients whilst encouraging their independence. The kit includes different types of glasses to simulate the visual effects of glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, bleeding in the back of the eye, macular degeneration and blindness. HCAs had to wear different pairs of glasses and try to read a set of instructions –they were then asked to make their way round the education centre with a colleague just to see how difficult it is and how it impacts on an individual's independence. Not only did they have to experience sight impairment but then they wore special weighted jackets and belts around the waist, elbows, ankles and knees. This had the effect of making the person stoop, it made their arms and legs feel stiff and arthritic.  A special weight that wraps around the shoe was strapped on with Velcro and the impact of this was to throw the individual slightly off balance so they had to use walking sticks to get around safely. It was very disconcerting and the HCA felt quite vulnerable – just like an older person with physical impairment afraid of falling. The HCA dressing up as an older person was assisted by colleagues who, once the dressing was complete and the person was about to set off on her exploration as an older person then ran over to a mannequin, took off the grey curly wig and plonked it on her head! She definitely looked the part!

The HCA’s also practised bed bathing/washing patients with a simulated mannequin, changing bed sheets, pressure ulcer awareness, how to correctly clean and label a commode, how to weigh a urine pad and work out how much urine a patient has passed. These are such important roles and it was heartening to see how focussed they were on providing excellent physical care with an equal focus on all those small things that matter. They embraced ‘my name is …….’ and treated the whole person with dignity and respect.  They carried out all these tasks as if the mannequin was real – even using a shampoo cap as if she was immobile!

The relationship between HCAs and training officers/practice educators was very strong; they had fun and lots of laughter throughout the day and it was good to see how confident the HCAs were in questioning, challenging and voicing opinion. It fits so well with our taking personal responsibility value; none of them struck me as shrinking violets (minor understatement!) and I would feel confident that they would act as the voice of our patients whenever necessary.

The HCA Induction programme is currently being adapted and revised as the Care Certificate and will be implemented for all newly appointed HCA’s this summer. The Care Certificate has 15 standards so delivery will be onerous. I know the team is up to it!

On the 20th May we received a Highly Commended award in the Health Education England’s Shared Culture Project for Award in Adult Learners Week 2015. I think there will be many more awards coming their way if they carry on providing education to this extremely high standard.

Thank you for having me, I had such a lot of fun on the day and look forward to working alongside you on the wards in the future!