Degrees, development and making a difference

We caught up with Healthcare Assistant (HCA), Hannah Walton, to hear all about life as a HCA at University Hospital Southampton (UHS).

Hi Hannah! Can you tell us a bit about your role and how you came to join UHS?

I attended a HCA recruitment day at UHS almost four years ago - and I’ve been here ever since. My current role involves supporting the nurse and team by doing observations - alerting the nurse and doctors to any changes or deterioration. I also do venesections, NG feeding, and make sure that people are following policies in regards to hand hygiene and infection control. I am about to move into an Education Facilitator role which involves training new HCAs; showing them how to do observations and how to navigate around the hospital. I’m also hoping to start my Band 5 Nursing Degree next September.

What has inspired you to do your nursing degree at UHS?

You get so much support here. I think the best way to learn stuff is on the job. When I first started, I had no background in care. I started as a Ward Clerk and from there, I just continued developing and going up the ranks. There's a big Education Team here who are always helping you develop and go further. I'm a mum as well; I have a five-year-old. So it's nice that I can work whilst doing my degree, and maintain my work-life balance too.

And how do you find balancing working life with your home life?

It’s quite flexible which is great. When I first started, I did maybe one long day and one short day a week. Gradually, as my daughter got older, I increased my hours. You don't have to just do long days if you can't - there are always different shifts on offer. I think you're expected to work maybe two weekends out of four, so you still get some weekends to yourself. The pay is much better on a weekend as well, so that's always quite attractive.

What’s the best thing about being a HCA?

It's nice knowing that you're making a difference and helping patients to get better. I just love the job, to be honest. I love it when babies come in as it's always nice to have a cuddle. And I enjoy engaging with the teenagers too. It’s boring, being in hospital, especially for teenagers - they're not at school and they're not around their friends. So it's quite nice to sit with them and talk to them, and find out how you can make it a better experience for them. It's not all about the medical side of things. At Christmas time we play loads of games with the kids and Santa goes around and gives presents out which is really lovely.

What’s your favourite thing about working for UHS?

The team environment's really nice here. Everyone that works at UHS, even the doctors, are just really friendly and supportive. You can approach anyone and ask for help if you need it. When it comes to my team, we're really good at supporting each other and speaking to each other outside of work too. I think we're going for a curry and a bottomless brunch together soon. And we've got some charity money that  we're going to put towards a team building day too.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of starting as a HCA at UHS?

Just go for it. Don't be worried about starting something new. I didn't come from a care background and now I'm hopefully going to be doing a Nursing Degree! UHS is such a lovely place to work and you learn so much on the job. If you're interested in care or helping people, then it's really the best thing you can do.