During COVID-19 all face to face studies were placed on hold and students were launched into practice, delivering vital care to patients both with COVID-19 as well as other long term conditions. Helen Mayne, a Student Nursing Associate Apprentice, supported patients to communicate with their family members who could not visit using innovative ways. Helen continued to support nursing staff as a Student Nursing Associate as well as concentrating on her studies and her learning objectives.
The Apprentice Student Nursing Associate is a new role developed by Health Education England, once qualified the Registered Nursing Associate will bridge the gap between the Registered Nurse and Healthcare Assistant.
It is usual for the Apprentice to deliver hands on care to patients, however during the recent challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic all students were launched into unforeseen measures where diversity and self-sacrifice were required. Helen was fighting the fight from day one, in the capacity of supporting the patients, the nursing staff and other members of the multi-disciplinary team but also as an apprentice who was required to complete her learning outcomes. To keep patients safe it was required that masks were worn, which in turn created pressure sores on ears, wearing full Personal Protective Equipment for long hours especially during the heat was challenging, however necessary. Helen had previously attended a phlebotomy study day, this enabled her to support the ward with the staff antibody test. This gave Helen the opportunity to take lots of blood samples and gain experience in this area of her role.
Helen found some days harder than others, more and more patients were admitted with COVID-19 and she found it difficult to see them struggling to breath and difficult to explain why their families could not visit. Initially Helen would find ways to try and cheer up the patients even if that meant singing and dancing. When iPads were provided to the wards it enabled Helen to help patients communicate with their relatives, which was both emotionally difficult but also rewarding.
Throughout the pandemic Helen has remained positive in her work ethic and has bought her own life experiences to help others and guide herself through this time. Regardless of all the challenges presented by the pandemic, Helen has achieved all of her learning objectives and is excelling at university and is striving for a distinction. Helen’s confidence has grown through the pandemic and she has emerged professional and triumphant.