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Sarah Johnston

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  • Sarah Johnston
  • Senior Nursing Assistant, Muckamore Abbey Hospital, Belfast HSC Trust

What attracted you to become a Senior Nursing Assistant?

I had applied for a summer relief position when I left school and seventeen years later I am still here. I realised this is what I wanted to do. I have always had a keen interest in working in a caring profession but soon learnt that working with people with learning disabilities is where my passion lies.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy being there for my patients and helping them with everyday tasks that influence and improve their quality of life. Enhancing patient’s skill level is vital assisting them to manage in the community.  We take our patients on outings to local cinemas, concerts and other activities that they enjoy doing.

I enjoy how we develop such a great relationship with our patients and their families and how we build trust and friendship with them. I am always an advocate for my patients.

Also there is a great ethos of team work within the field of learning disabilities. There are clear goals and care is patient focused.   This is fundamental to looking after people with learning disabilities.

Tell us about your most memorable moment in your role.

During my career within Muckamore Abbey Hospital I have worked in different ward settings from admissions to wards that deal with challenging behaviour. In one ward I had patients who were being resettled into community facilities. 

When one of the patients left I received a card from them thanking me for all the help that I had given them in settling into their new home. This was highly emotionally rewarding for me as it was the small things that I was involved in that made a massive difference in that patient’s life.

How do you see your career developing as a Nursing Assistant?

I have been very fortunate in my career so far as I have been able to complete my NVQ Level 3 in health and social care and also become a ‘Cook It’ tutor, this helps me to educate my patient on healthy eating/cooking and budgeting as these are skills are very important to the patients in everyday life.

I am also about to complete my Vital Skills training which will enhance my skills and enable to support the nursing team in managing/monitor patients physical health.

Also place great emphasis on effective communication and I am going to complete Level 1 and 2 in Makaton training in the new year.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career as a Nursing Assistant?

Working with people with a learning disability can at times be a very challenging job but it is always rewarding one. I really enjoy my job as I can make a difference in a person’s life.  If this is what you want you to do then this is the career for you.

I enjoy being part of a highly motivated and enthusiastic team who is focused on patient care.

The health service offers plenty of opportunities to help you develop your career in areas that you have an interest. You can also avail of an amazing induction/buddy program that helps you settle into your ward and the Trust as a whole.

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