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HND Healthcare Practice Students Share Lockdown Experiences

West London College is very proud of its many health and social care students who have helped look after patients throughout COVID-19 lockdown. Memories of the Thursday ‘Clap for Carers’ may fade, but at the college, the contribution made by our students is still very much in the forefront of our minds. Rosemary, Roxanne and Aissata share their experiences.

Rosemary, Roxanne and Aissata
Rosemary, Roxanne and Aissata

Rosemary, 38, has been working in the care sector for the past 17 years. Often asked to act up as a Team Leader at work, she realised she would never land a permanent leadership role without qualifications, so enrolled at the college to achieve her Higher National Diploma in Healthcare Practice Level 5. 

Like Rosemary, many health and social care students are already working in the sector and come to college to enhance their knowledge and professional skills, as well as, to develop their careers. She said: “In my first year, juggling childcare, work and study was challenging, but I kept going and with support from my teachers it became easier in the second year.” 

Rosemary works for Certitude, a company specialising in support for people with learning disabilities and mental health issues. During Lockdown the day centre she normally worked at was closed and she worked at a residential home for elderly people.  Rosemary says: “I am passionate about helping other people and I like organising things and offering my support to people who are less privileged.” 

Thanks to achieving her HND, Rosemary has been offered a deputy manager role which she has accepted. She has deferred her university plans until 2023.

Studying for health and social care qualifications also makes it a lot easier to find work in the sector, as Roxanne explains. Roxanne, 37, first became interested in a career in health and social care when she worked as a Rehab Worker for women with drug, alcohol and mental health issues in Liverpool. 

A Londoner, on returning to the capital, she decided she wanted a qualification to complement her work experience: “I found it much easier to get a job in the sector once I started my course.”

She works as a care worker for Bluebird Care in Ealing, and spends up to five nights a week at the homes of elderly clients, making sure they are well. In uncertain times especially for employment, currently, as Roxanne found, there are a lot of Health and Social care jobs available, and she worked throughout lockdown. She says: “Many people were made redundant during lockdown, but I felt fortunate that I still had a job. I also felt safe as I travelled on the tube at night when there were few other people. The clients I worked with were unlikely to contract the virus as they didn’t go out, and I took all the safety precautions.”

The isolation of Lockdown affected Roxanne though. She said: “I live alone and so the only people I saw were my clients. I couldn’t mix with my friends and family and that could be tough.”

Once Roxanne has achieved her qualification, she plans to work with younger people and to move into management. She says: “I’d like to work with care leavers as they transition from fostering or residential care to living independently. I also want to move into a leadership role.”

Working full-time, often with families to look after, plus studying is a challenging mix, and the college recognises that. Like Rosemary, Aissata is also a busy mother of two, and has just completed the first year of her Higher National Diploma in Healthcare Practice, while also working at night as a care assistant. Aissata says: “I love the course, it is giving me so much knowledge and has already helped me develop my skills at work.” 

Aissata worked at a care home throughout lockdown and is dedicated to her work. She said: “I was studying business and then a friend told me about working in health and social care. I was attracted to the role and I really enjoy my job. The residents I work with are so lovely.”

And as to Aissata’s future, she says: “In five years time, I see myself working as a care home manager.”

Health and Social Care Head of School, Ros O’Garro says: “Studying while working, especially if you have young children can be daunting. Rest assured, at West London College we put the support structures in place, and motivate our students to achieve, ensuring the process overall is much more rewarding than it is challenging.”

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