PJ Care: caring career

When Coral Monaghan decided to pursue a career in nursing she found the perfect place to start: as a Healthcare Assistant at specialist neurological care provider PJ Care. Here Coral talks us through a typical day and the difference she’s making to the residents

7.45AM It’s an early start. We have a handover from 8am until about 8.30am during which time we are allotted our residents for the day. We have four different care models in Eagle Wood, I work on our rehab/complex care unit, which has 26 residents. Each Healthcare Assistant is allocated approximately six residents for whom we will provide personal care to. So the first practical task of the day is to get the residents up, showered and ready for the day ahead.

11AM I am the activities champion for the whole unit, which means organising all the activities based around our residents. Due to the care model on my unit, this includes sensory activities, a lot of hand massages, getting out and about for activities like sailability, trips to the cinema, the theatre, many sporting events, and plenty of walks around the park. We work alongside physiotherapy and occupational therapy to make sure that the activities are both person based and rehabilitation based. Weekly meetings establish what would be beneficial and, if necessary, we will undergo extra training to help with this.

This might be in areas such as sensory care or, for example, how to break down scar tissue with massage as part of an activity. One thing’s for sure with our activities – we never miss the chance for a party at PJ Care! There’s a hydrotherapy pool here, so swimming is very popular. I run splash sessions which are used within residents’ physio plans and as activities in themselves. Cooking is also popular and all of us are Level 3 Food Hygiene qualified. With residents coming from all over the world we get to cook some interesting food; last week we had a gentleman over from China, so we cooked lots of Chinese dishes together. It’s important that rehabilitation is for both mind and body.

12PM Lunch runs from midday for an hour. Most residents meet in the lounges, though some prefer to enjoy some quiet time and eat on their own.

1PM Then we’re busy once more for the afternoon! Today we have Vivacity Sports coming in to do archery and hand cycling. Downstairs we will also have a little sweet stall, which is great for teaching residents how to use money again as well as valuable interaction skills – it’s a great rehab opportunity.

5PM Everyone meets for dinner, which continues till about 6pm. Some evenings I will then take people out to the theatre, but if nothing’s planned we’ll start the bedtime routine from about 7pm, which continues through to our home time.

8.30PM After the end of a long day it’s time to head home. All of the Healthcare Assistants work in an alternating shift pattern. On a long week we’ll work Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but on a short week we’ll only work Wednesday and Thursday, although a lot of us like the chance to pick up overtime. One of the other things I am enjoying picking up is all the valuable qualifications. PJ Care are happy to sponsor me to become a qualified nurse, which are really helping to build my new career.

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