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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A HEALTH CARE ASSISTANT - COVID 19

Derek Coughlan, FSPA Member

A DAY IN THE LIFE AS A HEALTH CARE ASSISTANT

I am a chef working with a well-known organization who support people with physical disabilities. When the Corona virus hit little did I know how my life would change. I was redeployment to the HSE and did intensive training to become a health care assistant (HCA). My working location is the reconfigured Citywest hotel, now operating as the Covid 19 self-isolation facility, with capacity of up to 1000 beds.

My day begins with a hand over from colleagues on the previous shift (a nurse and another HCA). I work with the nurse usually for twelve hour shifts 8am-8pm or 8pm-8am. We discuss the day (or night) ahead and then my first task is to gather all the PPE and other equipment required. It is important to ensure the PPE is donned correctly and in the right sequence, which is a crucial practice to minimize infection risk.

The nurse’s station is quite busy and since the facility is so vast, we use mobile phones to communicate. Upon the arrival of an ambulance we receive each guest and the nurse does all the required checks. When the nurse has finished, I bring the guest to their room this can take some time as there are three zone, Red-Orange-Blue (unfortunately we’re not allowed to wear our Fitbits). This is done at the arrivals area (near reception). Each guest is given a wrist band (colored) and a list of information and rule requirements during their stay. For example, only use the zone which has been allocated to them. All meals are supplied to them (i.e. Breakfast, lunch, dinner) as per guidelines from the FSAI who were on site at setup to give advice. Breakfast/lunch are cold and served in packs and delivered by hotel staff, who have been amazing throughout and evening meal is served hot in a designated area.

Then, I return to the arrivals area after each guest has reached their room. They use the lift and we use the stairs. Good hand hygiene practice is vital throughout the whole process – something I’d be familiar with as a chef. Working in my normal role I am concerned about cross contamination of foodstuffs and taking temperatures to make sure bacteria is killed and food is safe to eat. In this role I am concentrating on following Covid-19 HSE precautions to minimize the risk of viral cross infection and as for temperature and temperature control I am never so happy to read 36°-37°C on a dial……

While I am enjoying this new role, I will be very happy to return to putting my normal whites on and getting back to cooking. In the meantime stay safe!

Derek Coughlan

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