A day in the life of a healthcare assistant (inpatient)

Before I got my job as an RA, I worked as a health care assistant in an inpatient unit.

A typical shift

Arrive VERY early for nurses' handover. The shift co-ordinator from the previous shift gives an overview of each patient and how they have been on the night shift. Today's co-ordinator assigns each nurse and care worker a list of patients to work with that day. If possible, these pairings will be with patients' assigned key workers. Duties for the day are shared out.

Patients are up for breakfast (this was an eating disorders ward). Prepare dining room, make sure everything is laid out properly/appropriately, and the dietician's list is up to date. Serve out meals for those that do not yet serve themselves.

Supervise breakfast time. Each staff member sits at a table of about 4 patients. Support patients by giving encouragement, praise, prompting maladaptive behaviours.

Help to clear up afer breakfast. Attend a meeting with all patients to discuss issues within the ward community.
Go down to ward to supervise rest period. Offer 1:1 time to assigned patients. If any accept, we go to a private space to talk about anything they may be finding difficult that day, and struggles etc, but also positives. Advise on distractions from anxiety/self harm urges. If the patient is due for some leave, help them to plan menus and coping strategies.

Attend group therapy session with patients. Can assist the facilitator (psychiatrist, CP or nurse specialist) by giving input to the session, or can just listen and expand own knowledge base.

Plan "snack out" with one of my assigned patients. This is really more of an AP job, but the AP is very pushed for time & i get guidance and clinical supervision from the dietician, OT and consultant CP. We reflect on what happened last time. We agree upon her goals for the session, and how she can achieve them (also, how I can help her achieve them and what will reduce her anxiety). Take patient for snack out in to town, on our return we debrief about the session, how we think it went and what she can work on next time.

help to prepare lunch with another HCA. Make sure the tables are set with the right places, everyone's menu is correct and the chef has substituted all the right foods for vegetarians, allergies etc. Serve food for non-servers, assist/supervise those that are starting to serve themselves again. Again, offer table support, supervision & 1:1 time afterwards.

Write up clinical notes for assigned patients; mood, compliance, any issues etc. Hand over important info to shift co-ordinator.


I hope this helps! Feel free to ask me for more info

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