• 05 October 2021
  • 11 min read

The Challenges I Faced In My First Role As A Healthcare Support Worker

  • Laura Menzies
    Healthcare Support Worker
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Aubrey Hollebon
  • 0
  • 146
Play video: "I remember my first ever shift, there was a patient, and they were very unwell, and I was only 18, and I just didn't have a clue what I was doing."

Laura talks about the challenges she faces in her role as a Healthcare Support Worker, offering advice on how to overcome working with Anxiety, dealing with the workload & utilising your team.

Topics covered in this article

Introduction

Lack Of Knowledge When Starting Out

Training On The Job

Working With Anxiety During The Pandemic

Working With Patients Who Are Really Unwell

The Workload

Take The Positives From Each Day

Introduction

Hi everyone. My name's Laura.

I'm currently a Healthcare Support Worker within the NHS, and today I'd like to just talk to you about some of the challenges that I've come across being a Healthcare Support Worker.

I'm mainly gonna talk about the challenges I faced when I was newly into the role, and then I'm gonna talk about some of the challenges I face now in the role.

I'm also gonna be telling you some, well, giving you some tips and advice on how you can deal with certain challenges, so hopefully this'll help you if that is the type of job you're looking at going into.

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Lack Of Knowledge When Starting Out

When I first started as a Healthcare Support Worker, I was 18.

So, my first role I worked in a mental health hospital.

Now, the main challenge for me at this time was, it was lack of knowledge of the conditions the patients were suffering with.

You don't need formal qualifications to get a job as a Healthcare Support Worker, so I went into the role kind of blind in a way.

I didn't really have any inclination as to what conditions the patient had, so I did find this quite challenging.

I was working with patients who were very unwell with mental health conditions, and I didn't really know what the conditions were.

So, to deal with this, I learned more about the conditions, I researched online, I spoke to staff members on the board.

I just tried to get as much information as I could so I could work better and understand the conditions that the patients were dealing with.

So I did find that quite difficult.

I remember my first ever shift, there was a patient, and they were very unwell, and I was only 18, and I just didn't have a clue what I was doing.

I had induction training, but nothing really sets you up for these situations until you're actually on the wards, working with the patients.

So I remember that was quite difficult, and I found it quite frightening working with patients with mental health conditions.

But, when I read up and I learned a lot about how to deal with people with these conditions and how to work effectively with them, it completely changed then.

It changed how I worked with the patients and it helped me to work in a positive way, and I felt more confident in the situations I was in.

Training On The Job

Another situation I find challenging, and still today in some roles and departments I work in, is sometimes, there's not lack of training, but you don't always get the training before you're actually doing the job.

So, in regards to my current position I'm in, you might start working there, but then you might not have specific training 'til, like, two, three, four months down the line, and that can be quite daunting.

Because you could be in a position where you're asked to do something and you're not quite sure what to do.

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So, it's just knowing until you've had specific training to just work within your competency.

Don't just do something because somebody's asked you to do it.

If you're unsure, only do what you're qualified to do, what you're allowed to do, and what you've been trained to do.

So, I know sometimes you can feel under pressure if you're working on a busy ward and you're short-staffed.

You might get asked to do something, and somebody might say, "Oh, it's okay, can you just help with this? "And it doesn't matter that you haven't had your training."

But no, it really does.

So it's just knowing and being confident enough to say, "Well, I'm really sorry.

"I haven't been trained. "I'm waiting to do my training, "so at the moment, I'm unable to help with that."

So that's a big one in any job role, is challenging when people ask you to do stuff that you're not trained to do.

Just be mindful about only doing what you can do and what you feel comfortable doing.

Working With Anxiety During The Pandemic

Another challenge I found more recently, is working within obviously COVID.

That's been very challenging for me.

I do suffer with anxiety, and working within the COVID setting, that has made my anxiety worse.

But, a good strategy I used was just talking to people, talking to my colleagues. I also accessed a wellbeing service within the NHS, so they offered some counselling services.

It's just clicking in to what's available for you, so looking at what services that are available for you as a Healthcare Support Worker and it's accessing them.

So after I had been to the wellbeing service and had some counselling sessions, I was able to go back and work throughout the whole pandemic in a more positive way.

As much as I was still worried on a daily basis, I was able to manage my anxiety really well.

So working in situations that you find challenging, even though it's really hard, if you manage to get some help and talk to your colleagues, that will help you to deal with the situation a lot better.

Working With Patients Who Are Really Unwell

Also, some other challenges I found is working with patients who are really unwell, perhaps patients who are coming to the end of their life.

I recently worked as a Healthcare Support Worker, and when the patients were really unwell, I did struggle with that.

I found it very upsetting, but also, I knew to speak to people.

So I spoke to my manager.

I've spoke to other nurse members, other Healthcare Support Workers.

And if I've particularly struggled on a shift, I've sat down and spoke with them before going home.

So it's like having a bit of a debrief so I'm not going home and still worrying or feeling upset.

I can kind of talk it through with someone and go home and put it behind me.

So it is difficult dealing with people who are very unwell, but also it can be done with support and with speaking to the right people.

The Workload

Other challenges I've found throughout working as a Healthcare Support Worker is the workload.

Sometimes you might work in a place where they are very short-staffed and it's long hours and you perhaps don't get your break when you're supposed to get your break.

You're on your feet all day, so that can weigh people down and it can affect your wellbeing and your mental health, when you're constantly on the go, you're constantly juggling things.

But it's about recognising that if you are struggling, and like I've said with all the other challenges, it is about speaking to people and saying, "Look, I'm struggling.

"I can't get these tasks done in time, "or my workload is too much."

And it's about not suffering on your own.

It's about, like, speaking to people.

That's the main thing with challenges within working as a Healthcare Support Worker.

It's about working within your team and open up to your team and everyone you'll find will want to support you and want to help you because you're all in this caring environments and you're in this job role, so just be confident enough to speak to people, because that will help.

Take The Positives From Each Day

Also, I find it is really important to realise that no matter what challenges you face being a Healthcare Support Worker, the days do get better.

So you might go in one day and have an awful day and you might be super busy and really struggle and go home thinking, "Oh my gosh, it's the worst day ever."

But then you could go in the following day and it's absolutely brilliant, and it's about taking the positives from each day.

So looking at what you've done for those patients during the day and providing the care to those patients, and it's remembering that, yeah, days are hard and they will be challenging, but not every day will be like that.

And it's focusing on the real reason why you're working as a Healthcare Support Worker.

So I hope this video has been helpful to you.

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About the author

  • Laura Menzies
    Healthcare Support Worker

I’m Laura and I work as a Healthcare Support Worker within the NHS, I’m starting the part time BSc (Hons) Nursing (flexible learning) course through the University of South Wales this September. I am looking forward to developing my skills and knowledge further and becoming a qualified nurse. Working and studying part time is important to me as it enables me to balance my family life with my children. In my free time I enjoy spending time with family and exploring new places.

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  • Laura Menzies
    Healthcare Support Worker

About the author

  • Laura Menzies
    Healthcare Support Worker

I’m Laura and I work as a Healthcare Support Worker within the NHS, I’m starting the part time BSc (Hons) Nursing (flexible learning) course through the University of South Wales this September. I am looking forward to developing my skills and knowledge further and becoming a qualified nurse. Working and studying part time is important to me as it enables me to balance my family life with my children. In my free time I enjoy spending time with family and exploring new places.

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