Working as a care assistant in a mental health job
Lesley Chouchane gives her time to tell SocialCare.co.uk about her nursing home job and describes working with clients with schizophrenia, paranoia, bi-polar disorders, manic depression and dementia. If you're interested in learning disabilities jobs and mental health jobs, read on!
2nd March 2011
What is your current job title, and what kind of patients do you work with?
I am a care assistant for adult patients of all ages who have varied mental health problems which include schizophrenia, paranoia, bi-polar disorders, manic depression and dementia. Some also have a physical disability and / or learning difficulties.
You don’t have to give the exact name, but what kind of organisation do you work for?
I work for a privately run organisation which owns three care homes in the Staffordshire area. My job is in a residential nursing home which currently has 23 beds but is being extended to accommodate 30. This should be completed by end of 2010. The home provides 24/7 nursing care with a care manager, RMN's and care workers.
When did you being your career in healthcare, and what made you choose the industry?
I started working in healthcare in August 2005. To be brutally honest, I actually entered the industry because at the time I was unemployed, needing work, and the position was an opportunity to return to employment.
You’ve completed your NVQ 2 and NVQ 3 qualifications in Care, at what stages of your career did you complete those courses?
I completed my NVQ Level 2 in Health and Social Care for Adults in June 2006 and then proceeded to the Level 3 qualification which I completed in December 2007.
Did either of the qualifications have an impact on your daily routine as a healthcare assistant?
Both of the courses have had a positive impact on my job. They certainly helped me to understand and appreciate the needs and issues affecting clients within my care and have given me a greater confidence in being able to manage situations arising during my daily routine. I also feel it has enhanced my awareness and communication skills.
What is the most challenging part of your job at the moment?
I think the most challenging part of my work at the moment is trying to successfully implement the rehabilitation programme in place within the home. Because of the nature of the clientele, at times it is a difficult task to get individuals motivated to participate in the programme and to appreciate its value. However, it is deeply rewarding when it is apparent that it is having a positive effect on individuals in respect of their lifestyles and managing their own issues.
Do you think that enough is being done to highlight mental health problems and offer easy routes to treatment?
I believe that through increased media coverage in publications and on TV highlighting the extent of people having mental health issues, it is now being taken more seriously but there is still a long way to go. I think the key lies in more education and training for GP's in order for them to more readily identify symptoms and ensure individuals are referred more quickly for psychiatric assessment. Having said that, because of the many varied levels of mental health problems, I don't think there are any "easy routes" to treatment. It can often be a difficult task in making accurate diagnoses, even for trained specialists, because of the diversity of symptoms displayed by an individual.
Would you say that the stigma surrounding mental health issues is being broken down by the current campaigns in the media, or is it still as prominent as ever?
For so long mental health has been a relatively 'taboo' subject and I think that an awful amount of stigma still surrounds it. People still have the old idea of 'lunatics, asylums, and institutionalisation' and much stereotyping and discrimination is still rife. This is mainly because of ignorance and the lack of understanding of the subject. Increased campaigns in the media seem to be going someway to breaking down the barriers but it is very difficult to change peoples' deeply rooted prejudices.
Where do you see your career progressing over the next 5 to 10 years?
Because of my age (just 56!) and, since I don't have any professional RMN Nurse qualifications, I cannot see my career progressing much beyond the current level. I would consider counseling work but so far I have not researched the possibility.
Would you recommend a career as a Healthcare Assistant specialising in mental health to someone interested in the industry, and why?
I would recommend a career specialising in mental healthcare because it is a fascinating subject and one where you will never get bored since it is a constant learning process. It is obviously not a career where one is going to make a great deal of money, but it’s a specialist vocation especially if you become an RMN Nurse, which is extremely worthwhile and can be very rewarding.
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