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Kernowflex and Care Buddy roles provide flexible learning and personal enrichment for Falmouth University student

Ysella Lees is currently finishing her MA in Professional Writing at Falmouth University. In addition to her studies, Ysella has been picking up shifts through Kernowflex at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust.

“I started on Kernowlfex at the start of the pandemic,” Ysella explains. “My first role was working in stores and procurement, where I was based five days a week for a period of three to four months. I worked throughout the first wave of the pandemic, delivering supplies and PPE to all wards and departments, including the Covid ward.”

“It was an intense job,” Ysella continues, “but I really enjoyed it. Everyone in stores and procurement was so friendly, and always had the time to advise and assist me with any questions I might’ve had. Prior to my role there, I don’t think I’d ever realized before how many people make up our hospitals. It’s not just doctors and nurses, there are so many people all working together. The role that stores and procurement provide is such a vital service and one that too often gets overlooked, but they really contribute a tremendous amount to how our hospitals function, and it was a real pleasure to spend time working alongside the team.”

Since her time in stores, Ysella has continued to balance her studies with Kernowflex shifts across several admin and clerical roles, as well as work on switchboard and as a ward clerk. “I’ve been trying to gain as much insight and experience across the different departments as possible,” she adds. “Just being in a hospital environment you learn so much. It’s so different to any working environment, it really bonds you to the people you work with. We all play a part and contribute to the care and service that the hospital provides.”

In her current break between terms, Ysella has also taken on shifts as a Care Buddy. “I took on my first care buddy shift only recently,” Ysella continues. “It’s not something I’d ever done before, but as I had a break between terms, I thought I would use the time to take on a few shifts. I applied to do the training, just to see if I could help, and ended up getting a place.”

“Working in other roles and departments made me appreciate how useful a care buddy could be,” says Ysella. “Seeing how hard the nurses and HCAs work, I could see why the role had been introduced. A care buddy aids with all the little jobs, which give nurses and HCAs that extra bit of time to focus on other jobs that may be more important to patient care. Many are simple tasks, such as filling up water jugs and helping at mealtimes; answering a phone call from a relative wanting to know how their family member is; pushing a notes trolley to a new destination; changing a bed with a colleague; and talking to patients. It’s a valuable role.”

For Ysella, one of the benefits of the Care Buddy role is the flexibility. “After completing the training, all you do is give them a ring, you tell them your hours, and they book you in. It’s great! It works well for me with my current studies and workload, and it really helps the nurses and HCAs who are working so hard already.”

“You really have to immerse yourself in the role,” Ysella adds. “Not having done anything like this before, there are definite challenges. Dealing with different patients and stepping into your first shift, into a role and environment that is new and unfamiliar can be daunting, but you always know you’re well supported by the team. Using your own initiative can be a challenge at first. There’s no one really managing you or telling you what to do, so it’s more about recognising areas where a colleague might need help and assistance, or if there’s a particular patient that needs help with something, or just someone to talk to.”

“Spotting things, being there, being helpful. It all becomes second nature and you become very good at spotting things that you think a colleague or member of the team could use some help with. You’re there for them; both the patients and the people you’re working with.”

Working on Kerensa, an eldercare ward, Ysella has seen first-hand the benefit that the care buddy role can bring to our patients. “I was there at the time when visiting restrictions were in place due to Covid,” she continues. “Just being there was a bit of a comforting presence, providing help for someone that might be upset, or confused, or a bit worried about things that are happening. It was nice for the patients to see a familiar face and really nice to feel valued in the support I was able to provide.”

“All the colleagues on the wards have been so appreciative and are always happy to see a Care Buddy arrive to help with a shift,” Ysella concludes. “It’s great to have that mutual respect and to feel valued in the support or assistance you can provide. What I’ve learned from my experience, both on Kernowflex and as a care buddy, is that everyone does their bit. Being part of one big team is a good feeling.”

Added on 6 July 2022, in News - Working for us

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