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AHP Support Worker Case Studies

AHP support staff work across the health and care sectors playing an integral role in supporting people’s health and wellbeing. Ensuring they have consistent access to high-quality learning and career progression will benefit services and their users, through high quality, continuous care and reduced waiting lists. 

 

Fatima Ahmed - Orthoptic Assistant Practitioner, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

My main role is patient care, making sure patients are looked after. Being a nursing assistant in my previous job has given me the experience in assisting patients with anything they need. I test patient’s visual acuity, take various types of scans, visual fields testing and taking blood test of both adults and paediatric patients. I also coordinate the smooth running of clinics and assisting patients and other health care professionals with any enquiries.

My role has made a huge difference to the way our clinics are run. This has had a huge impact of the way patients are seen in our clinics. It has enabled patients to have all necessary diagnostic testing that they require to be done in one place. This has impacted patient care quite a lot, reducing some waiting times and the overall experience for our patients which is especially important to me.

Having looked after elderly family members I have always been aware that looking after people that are vulnerable is a very rewarding job. I enjoy caring for others and being able to make a genuine difference to an individual's quality of life.

During my time working at MREH I have gained a lot of skills which has now helped me develop in my current role as an orthoptic assistant practitioner. I always want to build up new skills and take on challenges and gain more knowledge in the role I do. I started of as a nursing assistant at band 2 working in an outpatient setting but have also gained some experience working on general wards. I am now a band 4 and currently gaining a few more skills doing in-house training.

I am most proud been part of fantastic team who are always willing to give our patients the best they deserve and making patients experience better. I am also proud of all the skills I have learnt with in my role. I was also short listed and was a finalist on getting an AHP award so very proud of been recognised for the hard work and achievements.

 

Mason Sellars - Emergency Care Assistant, Yorkshire Ambulance Service

My role as an emergency care assistant (ECA) involves supporting clinicians such as associate ambulance practitioners and registered allied health professionals (AHPs) such as paramedics, in the delivery of high quality, pre-hospital emergency health care. This includes assisting in various invasive procedures, delivery of medicines, basic life support, holistic patient care, manual handling, and driving under emergency conditions on blue lights to ensure safe and rapid transport to definitive care at a hospital.

When it comes to patient care, I believe my role to be highly important as it allows the paramedic to be able to concentrate on performing life-saving interventions while being assured that the support role is well trained and confident enough to be able to get on with other aspects of the job and patient care, like performing observations and otherwise assisting, allowing them to properly focus on the important tasks at hand. We also are able to provide patient reassurance in a scary time for them, allowing the paramedic to be able to continue their job whilst making the patient feel as relaxed and assured as possible.

I initially started my health care journey volunteering to provide First Aid at events when I was at university. After graduating, I spent three years employed as an ambulance care assistant on a non-emergency Patient Transport Service on behalf of a private sector provider. I had ambitions to become a paramedic since starting PTS as I really enjoyed helping patients with their problems and being a reassuring and supporting face when people are unwell and would love to do that in the emergency situation when to that person. it feels like the world is ending. When I found out about the emergency care assistant role and apprenticeships within Yorkshire Ambulance Service and how it streamlines the process of becoming a paramedic, whilst awarding you with several nationally recognised qualification along the way. I took the huge step to apply as I knew this process would be hugely supportive in helping me achieve my ambitions to deliver emergency pre-hospital care, to the best of my ability.

I found the apprenticeship programme to be hugely supportive in both training delivery and subsequent development. Given that the ECA apprenticeship allows easy and swift progression to associate ambulance paramedic (AAP) given an appropriate time frame of on-road experience, it has given me something to aim for, as such, I've spent the last two years trying to develop my CPD to allow me to progress and achieve my ambitions. The on-road aspect of the logbooks getting signed off by paramedics I found helpful too as it kept me on top of my skills during my development phase and I was constantly searching for ways to apply my learning to real world scenarios.

Since being active as a support worker, am I most proud of being able to use the skills and abilities that the apprenticeship process taught me, to be a reliable and effective member of an ambulance crew and support my clinician in delivering high-quality pre-hospital care to deliver the best and most effective patient experience.

I would say that making the jump to becoming an AHP support worker is one of the best and most rewarding things I have ever done. It has allowed me to meet excellent and caring colleagues who support each other, I have been an important part in saving lives and reducing distress in a person's hardest medical moments, I have been an effective member in one of the nation's most amazing institutions, I have been exposed to such varied, wonderful and challenging experiences that keep me thinking and let me go home after shift thinking I did something worthwhile every day. It is not always easy, but the challenge is part of the reward and the fact that no two days are similar is incredible and keeps things interesting, so definitely think of applying to be AHP support, it'll change your and other's lives. Plus, it allows excellent chances of progression to potentially be an AHP yourself one day.

I believe with a little bit of enthusiasm and effort, anyone can make a difference, and being an AHP support worker is an amazing opportunity. I'm incredibly thankful to Yorkshire Ambulance Service for giving me my shot at being an AHP support worker.

 

Claire Flint - Dietetic Assistant Practitioner, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

As a Dietetic Assistant Practitioner, I support the dietitians by carrying out patient reviews, ordering oral nutritional supplements and delivering training. I also support the wider team by delivering DESMOND courses, updating literature, carrying out audits. My work allows the dietitians more time to focus on complex cases which has an impact on patient care overall.

I have always had an interest in nutrition and dietetics and worked in the nutrition field for many years until unfortunately I was made redundant a few years ago. Finally, after getting my confidence back I was keen to get back into nutrition and dietetics to share my passion with patients and I was offered the job in this role, which has further increased my confidence and passion for nutrition and dietetics.

I have attended the BDA dietetic support worker course, mandatory training, DESMOND educator training and I am currently doing the Cambridge Diabetes Structured Education course. Alongside these, I have also attended a lot of CPD sessions both within the team and organisation and with external partners. I feel that I have managed to expand on my existing knowledge and skills and that I have also managed to obtain further knowledge and skills in new areas.

I am proud that I managed to adapt well throughout the COVID situation, through adapting to working from home, reviews via telephone and virtual delivery to ensure that patient care could continue. Where risk outweighed the benefit, I continued to go on home visits to ensure patients had the care relevant to their own situation. 

AHP support workers are a major support system to AHP’s to ensure that the AHP’s can organise their time to focus on complex cases and best use their time.

I have been very lucky to work within such a supportive team, who work as a team and treat one another as equals supporting and guiding one another to provide the best care possible for their patients. I have finally got my confidence and desire back which has prompted me to look at undertaking a postgrad in dietetics.

 

Christie Devon - Support Worker Educator, North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust

I am currently on secondment, with the hope of the position being made permanent, as a support worker educator. The main part of my role is to ensure that I provide the required training for therapy support staff across three sites. I am also involved in the recruitment of staff, provide supervision and mentoring, complete direct observations of practice. I am involved in many projects that are going on locally and regionally to ensure the voice of the support worker is heard.

The role was developed to ensure that the support workers feel they have someone that is supporting them and with the right training and competencies, they will deliver better patient care.

I started my career in the department as the secretary for the professional leads (OT & PT). I had always worked in an admin role since I left school (many years ago!) and did not know that the role of the support worker existed.

The role appealed to me because I thought it would be more rewarding and give me a sense of better job satisfaction. Being able to help someone back to a form of independence following illness gave me a real sense of achievement.

I take every training and development opportunity I can, I have completed my NVQ III which has helped me progress to a band 4 Therapy Assistant Practitioner. I have attended courses at the Douglas Bader centre, Roehampton, which focused on the rehabilitation of amputee patients which helped me in my support worker role in amputee outpatient. I have also attended ‘world COPD day’ which gave me a better understanding of the condition which in turn helped me with my role in pulmonary rehab. I have also found the CSP support worker webinars very useful in understanding the support workers scope of practice, delegation and accountability.

I am passionate about the role of the support worker and I am most proud of that with in my role I am making sure that the support workers are thought about in every aspect of development within the department. The support workers have also said that they are very grateful to have me in the post and they feel like they have someone on their side.

It’s a very exciting time to be a support worker at present, historically support workers have felt much undervalued but with the changes that are coming things are going to very different. There is so much more opportunity for you now to develop your career – the sky’s the limit!  

 

Emma Pratt - Emergency Care Assistant, Yorkshire Ambulance Service 

My role as an ambulance support worker is essential to provide the patient with a thorough, positive patient experience from the pre-hospital setting and initial point of patient contact right through to the handing over of the patient into ongoing hospital care. I assist the paramedic in managing medical conditions and trauma and provide basic life support and defibrillation where required. Having a support worker on hand allows the paramedic to manage the patient in a time-effective way which can avoid unnecessary delays which in turn could have an effect on the patient's potential outcome. We assist in safe and prompt moving and handling of patient's and conveyance of patients to hospital under blue light road conditions.

As a support worker, we are trained to assess and monitor a patient's condition and recognise any deterioration, communicating this to the paramedic as soon as possible. This allows for any necessary interventions that may be needed for improved outcome. The support we provide overall improves the quality of care to the patient and allows paramedics to feel supported in their delivery of emergency care. 

I grew up wanting to be a paramedic but was told when at school I would never achieve this with my predicted grades. I went on to do various health care roles and always had the desire to join the ambulance service. I met a dispatcher who advised me that there were call taking jobs available, so I applied. I did this for two years and got more insight into road life. As soon as the opportunity came up to join as an emergency care assistant (ECA), I applied. At the time, the new ambulance apprenticeship had been introduced with a view of a progression route which eventually would mean you can gain paramedic status through ongoing training. This appealed to me straight away. I have a mortgage and two children and the opportunity to progress whilst being employed means that I can still gain the position I have wanted to do since my school days. I am just awaiting the AAP interview opportunity which is currently delayed due to the pandemic but I am hoping this will be something I can go for as soon as I am able to.

The training I have undergone has given me some sound underpinning knowledge that is needed to be able to provide the care to the patient that we do. It also has helped prepare me for the academic side of things when I eventually apply to university. 

The proudest thing about my role is that I know I can make a huge difference in someone's life. This can be something as serious as cardiac arrest and providing effective life support to the patient, the variety of situations we attend means that no matter what we can always make a huge difference to their lives.

The advice I would give to others applying is that it's a really good way of being introduced to emergency care. It gives the individual opportunity to learn and develop whilst being supported by experienced mentors and paramedics. It also identifies people who are really interested in developing their career further to those who are happy to continue in a supportive role.

 

Megan Jones - Dietetic Assistant and Dietetic Support Worker representative on the Board of Directors for the BDA, East Cheshire NHS Trust

My role allows me to assess patients’ nutritional intake, and make changes to a patient menu, enabling them to meet special dietary needs. I enjoy being able to work 1-1 with patients; learning about their dietary preferences and hearing stories of their lives, I felt I have been able to make a positive impact on their inpatient stay. This became even more important during COVID and the restricted visiting times, but to know that my input and discussion with the patient could make a positive change to their day is a nice feeling.

The role appealed to me particularly as I was able to apply my knowledge from my nutrition degree in a clinical setting, without needing to go back to university to retrain as a dietitian. There was also a big focus on training and support which I felt right from my interview, so to see this at such an early stage was very promising for the role.

Medical terminology courses and training with the paediatric dietitians has enabled me to expand my knowledge of paediatric dietetics. This has allowed me to deliver Cows Milk Protein Allergy group sessions to new parents and their babies, leading to reduced clinic waiting times. Other training has involved being on the wards with patients and completing dietetic reviews of patients. Reviewing a patient’s requirements and ensuring a patient gets the right nutrition for them to recover or make their hospital stay a little more comfortable is really rewarding.

The project I am most proud of is changing the way we fortify patient meals. This project involved nutritional and cost analysis of different supplements, as well as taste testing to check palatability and suitability for our catering department. By changing the supplement used to a milk powder, we have been able to improve the nutritional content of fortified patient meals, as well as reduce costs for the trust by over 50 per cent.

Being an AHP allows you to develop your skills and work within a supportive team. I feel valued by my team and they always push me to challenge myself within my role but always with their support and encouragement. I never feel like I have to work on my own, and they are always very respectful of where my knowledge and training boundaries are. If you are looking to be part of an amazing team of Allied Health Professionals, then being a support worker is a great opportunity.

 

Robert Minter - Therapy Assistant, Hull University Teaching Hospitals

As a therapy assistant in an MSK outpatient department, I have many jobs including assisting physiotherapists and occupational therapists. I also have direct contact with patients who have Ilizarov frames*, Rheumatology conditions, and some with complex needs.

I have always had an interest in physiotherapy and believed becoming a support worker would help me gain the skills, knowledge and confidence to become a physiotherapist in the future. Training and development has helped me become more confident, it has also allowed me to work more independently in my area. I have also become a member of the CSP support worker reference group to help increase the voice of support workers and show what we can achieve.

My Trust offered me the opportunity to undertake a Level 5 Foundation Degree Apprenticeship which has increased my skills and knowledge.

If you're considering becoming an AHP support worker, give it a try. There are many teams and settings to work in. The satisfaction of seeing patients get better and knowing you contributed to that is the best feeling of all. If you are unsure about becoming an AHP support worker, talk to us or shadow us. We can show you and answer any questions you may have.

*used in orthopaedic surgery to lengthen or reshape limb bones; as a limb-sparing technique to treat complex and/or open bone fractures; and in cases of infected nonunions of bones that are not amenable with other techniques.

 

Sarah Adamson - Dietetic Assistant Practitioner, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust

A big part of being a support worker is being able to communicate clearly, you need to have good listening skills, be non-judgmental and have a high level of emotional resilience.  You need to be organised, flexible and be able to work both independently and as part of the wider team. I felt that my personality and work ethic ticked a lot of these boxes and this was what attracted me to becoming a support worker.

My role as a Dietetic Assistant Practitioner is within cancer services. A key part of my role is supporting patients with their nutritional wellbeing post-radiotherapy treatment. These patients have a stable nutritional care plan from the dietitian but benefit ongoing nutritional input and this has developed and evolved into a dietetic assistant practitioner-run ‘moving on’ / ‘next steps’ clinic. During this clinic, my work involves giving patients the tools to move on through education, empowerment and self-management of nutritional needs and promote health and wellbeing

A large group of patients in this clinic have completed treatment for head and neck cancer. Some will have had feeding tubes during treatment which have since been removed as they have established back on an oral diet. Eating and drinking is a huge part of life and we often have discussions around the ‘new normal’ post-treatment.

Examples of support include practical strategies to help manage ongoing side effects of treatment such as taste changes and dry mouth. I may also work with patients who are trying to wean off oral nutritional supplements and/or looking to regain strength and energy levels. Involving the patient in their care, we work in partnership together to make changes that are realistic and achievable.

Patients often raise a number of issues or concerns (e.g. financial, fatigue, emotional, physical changes) during clinic appointments at what can be a very anxious time and I, therefore, have to have a very holistic and empathic approach. My work involves close liaison and MDT working with clinical nurse specialists, speech and language therapists, cancer support workers and signposting to counselling services.

I have always been interested and committed to helping others and feel I have a sensitive and empathetic approach towards our patients and their families when dealing with the problems they encounter when at their most vulnerable.

I previously worked in the dietetic department as a Band 3 dietetic assistant, my current Band 4 role was new to the dietetic department. We have developed competencies and I’m supported by a nutrition nurse who also acts as a mentor. Working through competencies has helped improved my confidence and also enable me to track my progress, particularly in the transition phase from a Band 3 to a Band 4 role.

I really enjoy supporting patients through their care journey.  My role enables me to build positive relationships with patients and it is really satisfying when patients have got to a point where they feel confident to self-manage their own nutritional care and wellbeing.

I would encourage anyone with previous career or life experience in caring for and supporting others through difficult times and who may share some of the qualities I have mentioned, to consider becoming an AHP support worker. Yes, it can be emotionally challenging but there are lots of fun times along the way. It is so rewarding to know that the help and support you offer can have a positive influence in the pathway of those under our care.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

 

Adrian Roscoe - Emergency Care Assistant, Yorkshire Ambulance Service 

My role is to assist the clinician in offering the patient the best care possible. To ensure the best outcome for the patient. This involves driving to the detail, performing tasks such as ECG’s, blood pressure, temp etc, to aid the clinician in making an assessment on the best course of treatment for the patient.

I was attracted to the role of support worker, because I wanted to help people in their time of need. I also want to learn off my peers, and advance to become a clinician myself. 

The training given to me at training school gave me the understanding of the role and the knowledge to perform my role with confidence knowing I have been taught well. The assessments I undertook also gave me confidence that my peers were assured I could perform my role to a specified standard. 

The decision I made to join YAS and become a support worker was the best decision I have made and cannot imagine doing anything else in my work life. My experience on the road dealing with all situations has grown my knowledge, and given me experience and confidence, in all aspects of my role. I have also developed as a person, working well on my own, and also part of a team.

If you're considering becoming an AHP support worker, the training and support you receive will be so enjoyable and thorough. This will benefit you immensely in your role. This training will give you the opportunity to help someone in their time of need. Also giving great job satisfaction also. There will always be opportunities to keep learning whilst in role and also advance within your chosen field.

 

Louise Cleary - Dietetic Assistant, University Hospital Plymouth NHS Trust

I work within the gastroenterology dietetic team, supporting the specialist dietitians with their patient caseloads by monitoring nutritional progress and compliance with dietetic plans. Typically this involves checking patient weights, hand grip strengths, biochemistry results, oral intake and nutritional supplement tolerance. I also provide dietetic support to patients receiving total parenteral nutrition in the acute and community settings. My role enables me to build up a rapport with patients and their families, personalising their care for the best outcomes. I’m also actively involved in research project work and audits that aim to improve the dietetic service experience for patients.

Through on the job training, study days and CPD events, I’ve developed knowledge of a range of health conditions such as Coeliac disease, IBS, IBD, cancer and diabetes, the different nutritional challenges that these conditions pose and how they can be successfully managed with dietetic input.

Support work is very rewarding, with commitment and openness to learning/new experiences it offers the ability to become a knowledgeable and valuable member of the dietetic team. Knowing that sometimes the smallest acts of support work make a big difference to a patient’s care experience makes me feel incredibly proud.

The dietetic team at University Hospital Plymouth are very supportive. I’m also very lucky to have an encouraging line manager who has provided many developmental opportunities. I feel a valued and respected member of the department.

 

Jonny Orwin - Emergency Care Assistant, Yorkshire Ambulance Service

As an emergency care assistant (ECA) my role is to assist paramedics in day to day tasks and situations. My competence and confidence, and the confidence the paramedic's are in me, will allow me to do more and more with my ability, allowing for closer and further interaction with the patient. The more experience I gain, the more times I perform my tasks, the better I get, therefore making the care my patient receives better and more experienced each time.

I was attracted to this role as my background is the building trade – the polar opposite, and I believe the best way to learn a trade is to start at the bottom, and work your way up. This way you learn everything from the ground up. You understand how every angle of the position works and merges into the next.

I feel the training has helped a lot. I think my learning took on a faster and more realistic pace as soon as I was on the road and really in the situations. I feel very lucky in my position as both of my crewmates are two of the best paramedics on the service. Therefore learning and working with them both has helped me develop tremendously.

I’m proud of how far I have come in terms of my ability. I’m hungry to learn so I'm always pushing and questioning why. I’m also really proud that I'm doing a job I absolutely love. This route within the health care system will make you the best version of yourself and make you as good at your role as you can be – if you want to be.

 

Nikki Smith - Dietetic Assistant Practitioner, South Warwickshire Foundation Trust

My role includes the planning and delivery of training to care home staff and to undertake nutritional assessments of care home residents. I work closely with Warwickshire care homes to support them with meeting the Warwickshire Nutrition and Hydration Standards. I develop resources and such as newsletters, e-learning and presentations regarding malnutrition. I am also a DESMOND lay educator, delivering group education session for patients with T2DM. 

I have a degree in Human Nutrition however I have always been interested in extending my knowledge. The role of a dietetic support worker has allowed me to use the skills and knowledge gained from my degree as a foundation. Working with registered dietitians means I am learning every day which makes the role both exciting and engaging.

So far SWFT has supported me with lots of training including three BDA support worker courses. We have regular department education sessions and clinical support meetings which I find incredibly valuable. The mandatory training has given me skills in healthcare. All the training has allowed me to develop my skills and knowledge to help best support patients. Much of the training has also increased my confidence in practice.

I am extremely proud of the training we have delivered to care home staff. We worked hard adapting this training during the pandemic and finding other ways of delivering the information. We created an e-learning series and continued the training virtually via Microsoft Teams. This training has given care home staff the knowledge they need to help best support their residents in the prevention and treatment of malnutrition.

Working closely with AHP’s is a great opportunity to gain knowledge and experience. These roles are a great entry into an area you are passionate about. It is never too late for a career change and to do a job you love! I feel very proud to be part of the dietetic team at SWFT, particularly over the last year and working through all the changes brought about by the pandemic.

 

Samantha Eyre-Williams - Clinical Dietetic Assistant, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

Been a dietetic assistant for four years, I have trained care homes on MUST and food first, I have completed home visits for the dietitians and reviewed patients – ensuring they are happy with me coming.

I covered one of the COVID wards and implemented our COVID pathways and care plans to ensure the patients were given the best care possible, I work alongside the prescribing support dietitian to ensure all patients are prescribed supplements appropriately and safely – this has been more challenging during COVID as there have been a lot of inappropriately prescribed products with a lot of patients needing a specialised level appropriate supplement.

Recently trained as patient and carer champion for BCHUB, Also I am taking part in the BCUHB Be Proud staff engagement pioneer programme to help build the team to be the best team possible.

I previously worked as a mental health support worker for eight years and then as a slimming world consultant and saw the job role advertised and was really interested in a complete change in career. Working alongside the dietitians is really interesting, I have learnt a lot on the job and continue to learn every day. We treat each other as equals and our ideas and suggestions are just as equally valued as the dietitians.

There isn't just one thing I am proud of, I am proud to work for an amazing team, I am proud I get to train care homes and go out and meet other staff and patients, I am also proud that I feel like a team we are making a massive difference to patients and the experiences they receive.

There is so much opportunity for growth and development as a dietetic assistant, and so much variety of different specialties to go into. No day as a dietetic assistant is ever the same.