Health Care Assistant Posts

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Purplebear
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Health Care Assistant Posts

Post by Purplebear » Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:38 pm

For a bit of context, I'm a fourth year undergraduate and graduating this June. My undergraduate degree is in Psychology and from the University of Cambridge (high 2.I), and my add-on fourth year is in History and Philosophy of Science focusing on history and philosophy of psychiatry and psychology. I'm looking for a job for after graduation. I got rejected straight up for a Clinical Psychology assistantship post recently, but think I perhaps applied too early and had too little experience for the post (have done some nightline work but no work in hospital). I'm now looking at healthcare assistant posts in public and private mental health hospitals. Is this type of job appropriate experience when looking to go into clinical psychology? Am I selling myself short by going for this kind of job as it doesn't ask for a degree in the person specification? Or is it the right kind of job to be aiming for immediately post-degree? The salary's liveable and the work would probably be informative, but I'm wondering what kind of paths other people have gone down! Also, right now I'm really afraid I wouldn't even get a healthcare assistant job! Would be pretty crushing if that happened and make me question why I even did my degree... Thoughts appreciated! :alien:

Holly85
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Re: Health Care Assistant Posts

Post by Holly85 » Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:54 am

After my conversion degree I was a Bank Healthcare Assistant for two years and a bit, in this time I managed to get two years worth of voluntary Assistant Psychologist experience and 1 year of part-time Research Assistant experience as well as getting my driving licence and working on improving my personal statements. I have now got an Assistant Psychologist post (it has been a long road, but looking back I don't actually think I would change any of it!) It might be worth getting a Bank HCA post as this gives you the flexibility to do part time research and AP work, also if you haven't got a driving licence make this one of your priorities. Unfortunately it seems that very few people walk into a paid AP post as soon as they have finished university.

kaaatt
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Re: Health Care Assistant Posts

Post by kaaatt » Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:25 am

Hi Purplebear

I'd definitely recommend looking into healthcare Assistant roles before looking for the more competitive Assistant Psychologist roles. Although the role does not specify that you need a degree, a degree in psychology definitely makes you more desirable and you'll find that a large proportion of other HCAs are also graduates who want to go down the psychology route. You can also use this role to gain experience of working within an MDT and with clinical psychologists, and should benefit from clinical supervision. Whilst working as a HCA, you can also get involved with key/co-working with patients which allows you to do some more in-depth 1:1 work with clients, and you can also get involved in helping to co-facilitate groups which other staff are involved with, and there may be some scope to work with the clinical psychologist on certain tasks (you just need to ensure that you seek out opportunities!).

I also think that it's such a great role for learning how to build a rapport with patients. As a HCA, you have the most direct contact time with the patients on the floor, and you gain a real insight into patient's presentations and their perceptions of their diagnosis and treatment. I can imagine that those who have never worked in a ward environment in this capacity may sometimes feel a bit out of their depth going straight into an AP role without this, I know that I would have done if I had not had my previous experience!

On another point, it can also help you to see things from a different perspective (the HCAs) which can be really important when working in an MDT - for example, I know many a psychiatrist (but not all) who poo poo HCAs because they are, in their opinion low down in the heirarchy and therefore their opinions don't matter - whereas actually, sometimes the HCAs may be in a better position to understand the patients needs having spent a whole week with them, rather than one hour! I also found that it can also become really easy during meetings for people to start questioning why simple things aren't happening on the unit which you would expect, however having been in their shoes many times before I'd remember how psychologically and physically draining it can be when you have a hectic/traumatic shift, and I'd often find myself fighting their corner for them in their absence. I think this understanding can also help you establish a rapport with the HCAs on your team when you are working as an AP, and I think that they are much more willing to work with you (e.g. complete behavior forms which you need for functional analysis) when you understand their perspective.

On top of that, out of all of my jobs, being a HCA in a CAMHS inpatient unit has definitely been one of my favourite places to work! And even during my time as an AP I went back there to work at weekends occasionally on the bank, which I found helped to ground me. Working directly with the patients you really feel that you've made a difference, and it can also be pretty fun at times as you get involved with a lot of the activities! :D I'd also argue, that due to the scope for unsociable hours and overtime which is not available in an AP post that you can actually end up earning more money within a HCA role than you do when you start as an AP - I definitely took a paycut to gain my first AP experience!

I started off working on a bank basis during undergraduate, and through working in this capacity managed to land some full time work as I developed rapport within my preferred unit, which then ultimately lead to me being able to land my first AP post. I think I would have struggled to do so otherwise.

Pebble2015
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Re: Health Care Assistant Posts

Post by Pebble2015 » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:05 pm

I would echo absolutely everything that kaaatt said :)

Purplebear
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Re: Health Care Assistant Posts

Post by Purplebear » Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:33 pm

Thank you for all the replies! Really helpful :) I've applied for a Healthcare Assistant post now - fingers crossed! Am dreading a rejection, but feeling hopeful still. Feel much more positive about the role after everything you guys said. The post is a full time one but have my eye on a bank role somewhere else. Keen for a full time job at first so can get a place to live and get settled and then look for any extras later. Also Re: Holly85, am working on getting driving licence!
Last edited by Purplebear on Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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miriam
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Re: Health Care Assistant Posts

Post by miriam » Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:37 pm

The other option is something like care or support work with a less medical focus - domiciliary care, working in an old people's home, working in a school as a classroom support, working in a children's home (like the posts recently advertised on here), or in a home for people with mental health needs or learning disabilities. There are lots of options!
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

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ClaireEmma
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Re: Health Care Assistant Posts

Post by ClaireEmma » Sun Apr 26, 2015 12:33 am

Hi Purplebear,

I completely agree with what others have said about the value of working as a HCA, I worked on an adolescent inpatient unit for about 8 months before getting my first AP post. Despite having worked as an AP for 2 years when I applied for the course, I still found myself drawing on what I learnt as a HCA on my personal statement and in the interview.

I can understand your anxiety about getting one of these posts, I found it quite stressful trying to get that first job after graduation. I studied at Cambridge as well and I found the workload to be pretty intense so didn't manage to acquire much relevant experience during my degree (and technically they don't allow you to work), which meant I didn't feel I had much work experience to draw on in applications. I actually worked in the private sector as a community carer for about 3 months prior to getting a HCA role, it wasn't a service specifically for people with mental health problems, I was caring for older people in their own homes, but it still allowed me to start developing relevant skills such as establishing a rapport with clients and it increased my understanding of what life is like for people who have had a stroke or have dementia.

You have to bear in mind as well that support worker roles are a career in their own right, so if you get knocked back a few times try not to get discouraged, it might just be that this particular service is looking for someone who they think is likely to stay long term. A good tip for applications though is to make sure you show clearly how you meet all the essential criteria. I always went through each point on the person spec using them as headings to make it really clear rather than writing it as a sort of essay, but that's just me!

You could also look into research roles either in the NHS or at the University, not only are research skills valued by the courses, sometimes research assistant roles involve contact with service-users too!

Best of luck, it does get a bit easier once you get a foot in the door!

Purplebear
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Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2015 12:56 pm

Re: Health Care Assistant Posts

Post by Purplebear » Mon Apr 27, 2015 4:23 pm

ClaireEmma wrote:Hi Purplebear,

I completely agree with what others have said about the value of working as a HCA, I worked on an adolescent inpatient unit for about 8 months before getting my first AP post. Despite having worked as an AP for 2 years when I applied for the course, I still found myself drawing on what I learnt as a HCA on my personal statement and in the interview.

I can understand your anxiety about getting one of these posts, I found it quite stressful trying to get that first job after graduation. I studied at Cambridge as well and I found the workload to be pretty intense so didn't manage to acquire much relevant experience during my degree (and technically they don't allow you to work), which meant I didn't feel I had much work experience to draw on in applications. I actually worked in the private sector as a community carer for about 3 months prior to getting a HCA role, it wasn't a service specifically for people with mental health problems, I was caring for older people in their own homes, but it still allowed me to start developing relevant skills such as establishing a rapport with clients and it increased my understanding of what life is like for people who have had a stroke or have dementia.

You have to bear in mind as well that support worker roles are a career in their own right, so if you get knocked back a few times try not to get discouraged, it might just be that this particular service is looking for someone who they think is likely to stay long term. A good tip for applications though is to make sure you show clearly how you meet all the essential criteria. I always went through each point on the person spec using them as headings to make it really clear rather than writing it as a sort of essay, but that's just me!

You could also look into research roles either in the NHS or at the University, not only are research skills valued by the courses, sometimes research assistant roles involve contact with service-users too!

Best of luck, it does get a bit easier once you get a foot in the door!
Thank you for the reply! Yeah, the not being able to have a job while at uni thing hasn't been too helpful while at Cambridge I think, as there aren't too many ways to get valid experience and there aren't a lot of voluntary options in the city! Feel a bit better to know someone's had the same experience. Will look into jobs in other caring roles like the one you had, as I imagine that will be very helpful. Thank you!

zzz8
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Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2015 6:31 pm

Re: Health Care Assistant Posts

Post by zzz8 » Sat May 02, 2015 1:23 pm

Have you considered getting a HCA post and doing honorary AP or research assistant work one day a week?

Purplebear
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Re: Health Care Assistant Posts

Post by Purplebear » Wed May 06, 2015 12:51 pm

Just another query relating to this: the healthcare assistant post I applied for in the NHS was meant to have its interview today! But I haven't heard back either way (rejection/interview invite). I'm quite frustrated as feel should at least be notified if rejected prior to interview. :s Has any one had experience of this before?

Charlie
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Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:40 pm

Re: Health Care Assistant Posts

Post by Charlie » Wed May 06, 2015 12:54 pm

Unfortunately this is pretty standard. These posts get a high volume of applicants so most organisations won't notify you unless you are shortlisted for interview.

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