Gavin Hedges, healthcare assistant
Healthcare assistant Gavin Hedges tells us what his job entails and why he enjoys it so much
“I trained as a nursery nurse 30 years ago and volunteered at the Royal Marsden before joining the NHS 25 years ago. I started at University Hospital Lewisham in 2009. I’ve worked on lots of different wards – at the moment I’m on Linden ward, which is an adult elective orthopaedic and surgery ward.
“I know every single one of my patients and I treat them like family – that’s what it’s all about. I treat them how I would like to be treated. At meal times, I make sure they get exactly the food they ordered, because eating well will help them get better.
“Another thing that helps them get better is getting up and dressed rather than lying in bed in their pyjamas, so in the mornings I help them put on their cothes. I often sing with the patients – I make it fun. I’ve taken a counselling course so I’m a good listener too. I find out about their jobs and their families. I love chatting to the older women about the old days.
“Patients are often quite agitated because they don’t want to be in hospital. It’s important to show compassion and empathy and go the extra 10 per cent. You’ve got to be down to earth, open minded and a bit of an actor. Whatever is going on in your life, you have to leave it at the door, smile and have fun. People in hospital don’t want to see staff walking around with long faces.
“As a healthcare assistant (HCA) I take blood pressure, change dressings, take blood and remove cannulas was well as make beds. I also mentor the new HCAs.
“I receive lots of cards and presents from patients and families. One Christmas I took home four great big tubs of chocolate!
“It’s a great job but you need to be committed. It can pull on your heart strings. I still bump into patients now who I cared for years ago and they always stop and have a chat.”