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Addenbrooke's abroad
Staff profile block: 

Sheena Wilson

Healthcare assistant
Sheena Wilson

The team is fantastic, and the work is very rewarding.

What is it like?

The John Farman intensive care unit and the neuro-critical care unit are there for very ill patients who need thorough monitoring and / or the support of failing organs. The neuro-critical care unit specialises in patients with head or spine injuries or disorders.

Critical care is also provided in high dependency units, which provide and intermediate step between the ICUs and the wards.

Patients may need critical care because of trauma eg during an accident, serious illness or following surgery. These patients need more detailed observation or treatment than can be provided on our normal wards. They may come other parts of the hospital, eg after surgery, from the emergency department or from a ward where they were already being treated.

What will I do?

As an HCA in critical care you will:

  • receive hand over from previous shift
  • ensure all stock areas and the sluice are replenished and tidy
  • help patients with washing and personal care
  • assist moving patients and equipment between different critical care ward areas
  • help reposition patients in bed or out into a chair
  • take drug charts to pharmacy and collect medications if required
  • you may carry out observations recording blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels and urine output
  • assist cleaning and preparing bed space for admissions
  • make sure infection control procedures are followed

Patients are likely to be attached to a number of machines and  tubes and look very different but they are a unique person, an individual who is at the heart of every thing we do.

When a patient is first admitted into critical care it is a frightening experience and relatives and family feel helpless and may be upset and tearful so you will need excellent communication skills and compassion. At first you may find it hard to communicate with patients who are ventilated (on a breathing machine) but we always talk through what we are doing even if the patient is unconscious. This is because, even though they are sedated, the patient may be aware of being touched and moved in the bed.

Sometimes despite all the best efforts of the critical care staff, patients are too ill and do not survive.

Critical care is a challenging and very rewarding environment.