In February 2019, I decided to change my life completely. I had been working for the last 13 years in a place where promotion was not an option. With no opportunities for growth, I decided to quit my job. I wanted to become a healthcare worker; however, with my background in economy, I thought it was too late to change my career path. When I heard about the Social and Community Care Traineeship programme being run in Tallaght Training Centre (DDLETB), I decided to apply. I was pleased to hear that I was accepted.
I was full of self-doubt but then I quickly realised I was in the right place when I met my classmates and tutors. My main concern was submitting assignments in a language foreign to me. My fears turned out to be groundless because everyone I met on this course was more than helpful. I started the course in July 2019, and it was the beginning of a new life for me. Not only has this course changed my life completely but also it has made me a better person. I am more confident now and believe in myself, things I thought would never change. It did not only teach me how to prepare for my new role as a Healthcare Assistant but also showed me how to better myself. My tutors were very dedicated professionals and taught me everything that I had to know to start my work placement at St. James’s Hospital in Dublin.
When the COVID-19 outbreak restrictions began to take place I only had one module left to complete. It was a big change for all of us and we needed to start learning remotely since Tallaght Training Centre had to be closed until further notice. At that time, I thought it will be impossible to complete all the assignments without class-based tutoring; however, my tutors adapted very quickly to online teaching. At first, it was difficult to get used to online tutoring but with the support and guidance from our tutors, it became a new norm.
I continued my work experience in the hospital that I started back in October. Since day one I knew this was exactly where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do going forward. I was a part of the Private 1 ward, a unit caring for patients with a variety of cancers and general medical conditions. I wore my uniform with pride and even after an exhausting day I was still smiling to myself, knowing that I made someone’s life a little easier today. They were wonderful people who made me feel like I was one of them.
At the beginning of my work placement, I was supposed to shadow one of the other Healthcare Assistants to learn the rules and responsibilities; however, in such a busy environment I also needed to use my own initiative and started to work on my own very quickly. My duties included working and supporting patients with their everyday needs. I was the link between patients and nurses. I started to apply my learning from Tallaght Training Centre – strict adherence to health and safety, infection prevention and control, confidentiality – all started to sound very familiar and I was impressed with myself.
With the COVID-19 outbreak, new rules were introduced to the hospital. Along with the recommendations from the HSE, we had to create a system that was safe and secure for everybody around us. With all staff looking like astronauts dressed in the PPE equipment it was difficult for our patients to recognise familiar faces. It was hard – we also could no longer spend quality time with the patients as we used to before the pandemic. We were communicating through the phones only to prevent the spreading of the virus. No visitors were allowed in the hospital – we still had to care for our patients but from the distance. Everyone was fearing the virus in one way or another. Almost half of the staff in my ward were in quarantine or self-isolating at one stage. People were awaiting swab results. We were getting wounds on our hands from constantly washing and rubbing alcohol in them. Our breaks changed; we could no longer have a meal together – meeting someone for lunch was not an option. It was truly a difficult time for everyone. I was very lucky to be able to continue my work placement in these difficult times, but I have learned so much so quickly. As a result of my work placement, I was offered a job.
I am so happy I decided to apply for this course last year. I can honestly say that if you are looking for a rewarding career that will change your life forever, please apply for the Social and Community Care Traineeship in Tallaght Training Centre. During my studies, I met amazing people who showed me that I can do anything if I am willing to put my heart into it. If it were not for my course and work placement, I would not be in my dream job.