by a member of the BOA Executive

So last Thursday, New Year’s Eve, the call came out: local hospitals need your help, can you help?

I volunteered; gave my name and telephone number and being slightly cynical of the ‘processes’, expected nothing much to happen. Four hours later a call came in and by the following day I was doing the first of my 12.5 hour shifts as a Health Care Support Worker on a COVID-19 ITU – quite a change from my day job and an unexpected start to 2021.

I learnt much and quickly so thankfully got better over the course of the three weekend shifts. It was clear that simply the fact that I was prepared to give up my time to help them was much appreciated; on a simplistic level my physical presence and willingness to ‘muck in’ allowed everyone an extra 15mins on their tea and lunch breaks (much valued when otherwise a chunk of your ‘break’ is spent donning and doffing!). It is easier to clean a bed when there are two and much easier to share an anecdote and a joke when there are two and after a shared joke or two it gets easier to admit you have not a clue how the syringe pump works and that even some of the numbers on the monitors are a little incomprehensible. Simply offering to ‘do that for you’ allowed me to spend a ‘happy’ hour or so rewriting drug charts!

Some of my fellow support workers were medical students and so we had a fulfilling time learning off each other: some were simply shocked by how different the real life ICU experience was and others a little over enthusiastic at the idea of putting principles into practice but by the end of the weekend we were a team and playing to our strengths, some were good at sorting out those dreaded syringe pumps whilst I had learnt where to hit the blood gas analyser to make it work well! I had managed to explain some clinical conundrums to them and they had taught me some modern elements of respiratory physiology.

If you are asked to help and are in any doubt as to whether your skill set is relevant or not – please cast your reticence and your pride aside – put a smile on your face, bring your willingness to learn along and join the team. You will not regret it. I am going back this weekend…