Harry goes from cleaning to clinical at Queen’s Hospital

Harry goes from cleaning to clinical at Queen’s Hospital
13 February 2017

When Harry Bird joined Queen’s Hospital as a part-time member of the domestics’ team he had no idea that he would one day be working at the sharp end of the A&E department.

The ambitious 23-year-old joined the Trust at the tender age of 16 when he worked weekends while studying A Levels at Abbot Beyne High School in Burton.

Although he was not treating people for medical conditions, the role Harry played out still had the potential to save lives. He was responsible for keeping the wards spotlessly clean to minimise patients’ risk of contracting infections such as MRSA and C.diff.

He said: “Most people associate saving lives with doctors and nurses but the domestic teams play an extremely important role too and the work they do shouldn’t be underestimated. The standard of hygiene and cleanliness they meet to ensure the hospital is a safe environment for patients, who are particularly vulnerable to infection, is exemplary. I really do have the utmost respect for the domestics’ team, the commitment and professionalism that members of staff show on a daily basis is second to none.”

When he joined the Trust Harry, who lives in Winshill, had originally hoped to work there for two years before heading off to study teaching at university. However, after taking part in a placements at a number of schools, he realised it wasn’t for him.

With his A Levels successfully completed and no clear plan in mind, Harry decided to continue working at the Trust while he figured out what to do next.

During this time, a supervisor’s role in the domestics’ team was advertised and Harry threw his hat into the ring.

He explained: “I knew that being offered the job would be a long shot as I was only 18 and didn’t have any experience in management but I thought it was worth a try. I went through the interview process and although she was incredibly supportive, my manager left me in no doubt of the responsibility that I would have, both in terms of the team I would be heading and to the patients, their friends and family. Although this was a slightly daunting prospect, I was ready for the challenge and when I was offered the job, I dedicated myself 100 per cent to doing the best I possibly could.”

Harry’s commitment paid off and he thrived in his new role, managing a team of 60 employees on the morning shift and 30 in the evening. He was encouraged to develop his knowledge by undertaking an NVQ Level Two in Management at Derby College, funded by the Trust.

Harry added: “I was fully supported by my manager who was keen for me to build on the skills and experience I had gained as a supervisor so that I could be even more effective in my role. I was really pleased that Burton Hospitals paid for me to do the NVQ as it was something that I felt would be beneficial to me as a supervisor and, as a result, to my team, but I couldn’t really afford to pay for it myself. I think it made a big difference to my role at the time and many of the things that I learnt are also relevant in my current post.”

Harry had a wide-range of tasks to carry out as a supervisor, a key one being to ensure he had the right number of employees to achieve the appropriate levels of hygiene and cleanliness throughout the hospital.

In order to achieve this he worked alongside colleagues to launch a joint recruitment drive for domestic staff and nursing assistants. As he listened to his co-workers telling people about the duties of a nursing assistant, Harry became intrigued.

“My colleagues were talking to people at the recruitment events, telling them about what a nursing assistant does on a day-to-day basis. The more I listened, the more it sounded like something I would be good at and would really enjoy,” he explained. “I decided to have a chat to the Learning and Development team to find out a bit more about the role and how I could move into it. After some initial conversations I made up my mind that the transition was definitely something that I wanted to do so when the job came up, I applied, was interviewed and luckily I was offered the job.”

Much to his delight, Harry was assigned to A&E. Before he began working on the department, he undertook an intensive two-week training course and later completed his Care Certificate which is a mandatory qualification undertaken by all nursing assistants.

When he had settled into the role, Harry embarked upon an NVQ Level Two in Health and Social Care which was delivered in-house.

As part of his role, Harry provides personal care for patients which includes taking them to the bathroom if they need assistance, explaining what is happening and making sure they are comfortable while waiting to be seen.

He is also competent in carrying out initial ‘observations’ on people from checking blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels to bed and pressure sore checks. He has further progressed to be able to drain blood and fit cannulas.

Harry said: “I’ve learnt so much since I started on A&E and I have loved every minute of it. The thing that appealed to me about the department was the diversity. You never know what is going to happen from one hour to the next, let alone one day to the next so it is always interesting and energising.

“I tend to help a lot of older and frail people who can become quite distressed. Just by spending a bit of time talking to them and putting their mind at ease can make all the difference. Our patients are individuals and it is important to treat them as such, they need care and attention and to be kept informed which is a really important part of what I do.”

Harry is now looking forward to qualifying as a nursing assistant and progressing his career for the benefit of patients. He has praised the Trust for its continued support throughout his journey and the opportunities it has afforded him.

He explained: “I can’t speak highly enough of all of my managers, they have been incredible. They have supported my career choices and have helped me to map out the path that I need to take in order to achieve my goals. Sometimes I think they want it ever more than I do!

“I have enjoyed every single aspect of working at the Trust, whether it was cleaning the hospital to ensure that patients were in a safe environment or assisting them in the A&E department. Knowing that I can come to work every day and make a real difference to people’s lives is extremely satisfying and I would recommend it to anyone.”

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