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Student nurse’s Facebook defence of HCAs goes viral

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A Facebook post written by a student nurse, which defended the vital role of healthcare assistants, has gone viral.

Charmaine Briggs, 23, from Somerset used the social media site to vent her feelings after a stranger belittled the role of healthcare support workers.

“Some people really do need to stop and think what they say to people”

Charmaine Briggs

Ms Briggs wrote on her Facebook page that no one should be considered “just” an HCA. All staff, including HCAs, doctors and nurses, were reliant on each other when they were treating patients, she said.

Her post has now been shared more than 44,000 times with more than 143,000 Facebook “likes”.

“I had a little rant on my status to let off steam and it just got shared more and more and more,” she said. “I have had hundreds of messages on Facebook, some very touching.

“Some actually thanking me for saying it publicly as they get called ‘just a HCA’ all the time and it made them feel better about themselves,” she told local newspaper This Is The West Country.

Describing the incident that sparked the post, Ms Briggs said: “I was in a coffee shop in the queue talking to a friend and she asked how my nursing was going and if I was still enjoying it.

“I said it was really good, I was getting good experience moving around with placement but the money was hard,” said Ms Briggs, who worked as an HCA before starting her nurse training.

“Then, a man behind us who I did not know, and nor did my friend, asked ‘why would you want to be a nurse and wipe bums for a living? You may as well be just an HCA’,” she said.

“At the time, I didn’t say anything because I was just shocked that he joined into a conversation that did not involve him, but the words went around my head all day and to think people see it as ‘just a HCA’ really got to me,” she told the newspaper.

Facebook post by Ms Briggs

”Today someone said to me ‘Why would you want to be a nurse and wipe people’s asses for a living? You may as well just be an HCA’ This made my blood boil.

No one is ‘just an HCA’ for a start, I’ve been a healthcare assistant before being a student nurse and you are your patients only support in some cases. We are the staff with the patients 24/7.

Student nurse

Student nurse’s Facebook defence of HCAs goes viral

Charmaine Briggs

We are the ones changing the beds, changing our own clothes for the fourth time due to other people’s bodily fluids, the ones mopping up the nosebleeds and cleaning commodes on a loop.

We are up close and personal with our patients – we hold their hands when they fear the unknown, we listen to them when they need someone to talk to, we’ve cried with them.

We work around the clock 365 days of the year, we sometimes sit with patients who have no family so they simple don’t pass away alone.

It is physically and emotionally challenging, and one day you’ll need that help from “just a health care assistant” not just when you’re old, you don’t know what tomorrow holds.

Nurses save lives every day. I don’t know if people think it is only doctors who save your life but it’s really not the case.

Everyone comes together as a team and doctors wouldn’t be able to do their job without nurses, as nurses wouldn’t without HCA’s.

Some people really do need to stop and think what they say to people, as one day you might need that lifesaving help from the people you run down.”

  • 2 Comments

Readers' comments (2)

  • Spot on. Countless times the words 'I am just an HCA' or 'I'm just a cleaner' have been said to me, as a staff nurse and as a manager. Every time, without fail, I have responded with the words ' no-one is 'just' anything - we are all here to do the same thing and we couldn't do it without you'. As a student, I learned volumes from experienced HCA's and domestic staff. They taught me how to care; they taught me how to listen and they taught me patience. I applaud each and every one of you.

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  • I read this post on face book yesterday and it really struck a cord with me. Like Ms Briggs I dislike the word " just " such as she's just a HCA, just works in Nursing Home or Elderly Care. There is no place for just in nursing, what may seem trivial or unimportant to some may be of huge importance to patients and there care. Everyone has a place in the ward team when caring for patients and the vital role is their working together, respecting and supporting each other providing the best care they can. Whoever it is, the housekeeper mopping the floor, S/N administering pain relief or indeed someone wiping a patients bottom they all have a role in patients well being. This month it is 46 years since I started my long career in health care as a cadet nurse. When I was 54 I retired after 25 years as a ward sister however I missed patient care so much I returned to nursing 5 years ago as a HCA working in a hospice. What ever the grade I have worked in I have gained so much in caring for patients to the best of my ability while working with some wonderful people. So to all those who take part in the care of patients I would say be proud of what you do every day and in these difficult times keep smiling!

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