The health sector is rife with strange job titles and it can be very confusing for those receiving care (and their families) exactly who does what.
My role is an Assistant Practitioner in the Rapid Response Team. So what is an Assistant Practitioner, how are we different to traditional healthcare assistants or support workers?
The main difference is in the level of knowledge and skill we have to deliver health and social care to people. We have a required level of knowledge and skill beyond that of the traditional healthcare assistant or support worker. We are able to deliver elements of health and social care and undertake clinical work in domains that have previously only been within the remit of registered professionals. The Assistant Practitioner may transcend professional boundaries.
I wake at 05:30, shower, dress have breakfast, sort my meals for the day, feed my adorable dog Ruby and head to the office to arrive for my shift 07:00-19:30, wondering what the day has in store for me; as working on the Rapid Response team one thing for sure is no two days are the same.
A typical day starts with myself, a senior nurse practitioner and a co-ordinator all arriving for 07:00 to receive a handover from the night nurse about the previous night’s activities and workload and any referrals pending.
07:30 a referral comes in for Rapid Response to assess a 98 yr. old gentleman who was threatening to commit suicide by taking all his medication. Initially we discussed passing the referral through to Older Peoples Mental Health team as its more their domain, however we decided to respond ourselves to gain a clearer picture and speak to the gentleman himself.
On arrival the gentleman stated he was desperately unhappy, he is registered blind, has reduced mobility and is reliant on carers and neighbours to help him with his functional activities of daily living and the reason he was contemplating suicide was because his hearing aids weren’t working and they hadn’t been for a couple of weeks, he had informed carers and neighbours but to no avail. So not only was this man living in a world of darkness he was living in a world of silence too.
I see people from all walks of life, and on the surface it is not always apparent they are struggling with their mental health especially the older generation who are stoic and potentially continue to “plod on”. Yet according to the World health Organisation “With regard to age, suicide rates are highest in persons aged 70 years or over for both men and women in almost all regions of the world. Makes you think doesn’t it? How such a trivial problem to some has such a huge negative impact on others to make them feel so desperate as to contemplate suicide.
On arrival back at the office just prior to the team meeting starting I addressed the team members of this man’s plight and after contacting the hearing aid department arranged for him to attend the following day; however this would be easier said than done as his next of kin lived 30 miles away and was undergoing treatment for an illness and his neighbours were of similar ages and abilities to himself; therefore as a team, although not in our remit, we decided we would take him to attend his appointment and then take him home. However due to the nature of the team and the workload uncertainties we face each day this could prove difficult so I arranged to be on standby on my day off to ensure this gentleman got to his appointment. He did through the efforts of Rapid Response and the outcome was positive, the aids were fixed and he could hear again.
“The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.” - Albert Schweitzer
A typical day starts with a team meeting when the rest of the team arrive. We discuss any new referrals for those in crisis and people who are inpatients in a local care home and Rehabilitation Unit for people with dementia who have gone into crisis and also those patients who are too unwell to remain at home with a care package but still have rehabilitation goals and do not require hospital.
Attending people in crisis
After shift lead has delegated and distributed the workload for the day I then head off with the Occupational Therapist (OT) as a care link has been activated by a lady who has fallen in her home. The lady was on the floor complaining of ankle pain, after assisting the patient into her armchair following examination we advised the lady she should attend A & E for an x-ray as a precaution however the lady declined insisting she would be fine, the lady had capacity to make that decision and understood the consequences of not seeking further treatment, therefore we made her a cup of tea and left her safe in her armchair.
The day continued with me attending several more calls to people in crisis including assisting a nurse practitioner with a patient who was suspected of having a urine infection which was impacting on their functional abilities therefore requiring a short term package of care from the Crisis Support team, so I completed the care plan; and a gentleman who was stuck in his armchair thus myself and the Occupational Therapist raised his arm chair enabling him to stand independently from his chair when he so wanted, instead of being reliant on others.
We face many challenges on a daily basis, workload is often high and expectations from some patients are even higher. We want very much to offer an individual tailored service to the people we work with, which is hard when you are so time-limited. I don’t want people to feel like a number and I think most people are unaware of how stretched we are sometimes. We genuinely care about the overall wellbeing of the people we work with and we regularly get positive feedback from clients about our practice and team rapport.
I work in a great, multi-disciplinary team where we respect each other’s views and professional input and draw on each other’s expertise and I feel valued; there is always someone to look to for support or just to lend an ear to listen to us rant about the many wrongs in the health and social care world and indeed the world in general. I am most fortunate to be able to work with the many different professionals and have gained a wealth of knowledge. Multidisciplinary teams convey many benefits to both the patients and the health professionals working on the team including improved health outcomes and enhanced satisfaction for clients.
As Mother Teresa said “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
I love my job and strive to be a better practitioner every day.
Subscribe to our mailing list for news & update information