Students help on Kettering General Hospital wards

BCG, Tresham College, Kettering General Hospital

A Ward Host scheme is enabling 67 students from Tresham College, Part of The Bedford College Group, to support busy Kettering General Hospital (KGH) in Northamptonshire staff during the Covid pandemic.

The students, aged 16-35, help staff with patients at mealtimes, make drinks,  chat and provide company for them – a comfort which helps them to feel less nervous in the hospital environment.

They also help patients access schemes like Virtual Visiting – where people use KGH computer tablets to contact relatives. *(visiting is currently suspended at the hospital except in exceptional cases such as end of life care)

Other advantages of the Ward Host scheme with Tresham College launched on January 22, includes giving students valuable work experience and helping to free-up ward staff to concentrate on clinical care.

Daisy Saunders, 17, from Corby, is a second year Level 3 Student on Tresham College’s Health and Social Care course based in Kettering, Northamptonshire.

She said: “We wear distinctive black t-shirts and work in a variety of wards and departments on shifts between 10am-3pm or 4pm-7pm.

“I am working in A&E where I help with things like providing patients with tea, water and food but mainly chatting with them and helping them to feel relaxed while they are in an unfamiliar environment.

“It is quite amazing what the effect a smile and a bit of a natter can have on people – especially those who have been isolating for a long time.

“I aim to do a degree and become a paramedic in the future and this is great preparation. I want to make a difference in people’s lives and help those that really need it.”

Senior A&E Sister Deborah Wale said: “We can be really busy in A&E and have lots of elderly patients. The Student Ward Hosts are playing a really valuable role in providing company for our patients who may be quite nervous and also helping us by performing some of the tasks which take us away from clinical care.”

Student Ward Host Tricia Bonifacio, 19, is working on the hospital’s Sir Thomas Moore Ward.

She said: “I help serving meals, with the tea rounds, washing up, making the beds but I think one of the main things is talking to people. Patients really appreciate having that time. I want to become a nurse so it also has given me a real insight into what working in a hospital setting is really like.”  

One of Tricia’s patients, Pete Chapman, 48, from Market Harborough, came to hospital after a relapse with his multiple sclerosis. He said: “I had a good 20 minute chat with Tricia this morning. It’s really good to talk. It does give you a lift when you are alone in hospital.”

Sir Thomas Moore Ward Sister Tracy Bees said: “It is great having that extra pair of hands to help with all of our everyday tasks. It really helps to take the pressure off. The students are all very keen, happy and smile a lot, which is lovely and helps to boost everyone’s mood.”

KGH’s Head of Education, Sheila Turner said: “We contacted Tresham College at the end of December to ask if their Health and Social Care students would take part in an industry placement role to support our ward staff during the current period of significant Covid-related pressure on the hospital.

“We have worked closely with the College to fit students to our Ward Host role which is really helping us to maximise our support for patients and our own staff at this difficult time.

“Together we have developed an induction process where students are briefed in food hygiene, risk, and hospital procedures.

“They have been taught and assessed to wear appropriate PPE to the areas they are working in which include eight wards, A&E, pathology and physiotherapy.”

Students follow the same infection control and Covid-testing procedures as staff and are supervised to ensure safe working.

Sarah Nolan, Head of Health, Care and Early Years at Tresham College, which is part of The Bedford College Group based in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire said: “The students are loving the work and really feel they are making a contribution.

“They have received a very warm welcome from staff and they are really pleased to help out and see, first hand, what sort of opportunities working in healthcare provides.

“Comments we have received from students have included:

  • ‘It was amazing. Everyone within the department was so welcoming and nice.’ 
  • ‘Absolutely loved it, definitely tests your ability to work under stressful situations - but I’m so glad I’m doing the work, can’t wait till I go back.’
  • ‘Everyone is so friendly – it fuels my willingness to learn!’ 
  • ‘When you go home you realise how much you have helped individuals throughout the day in the hospital and you will realise that you have made someone's day. But even just making them a cuppa or just speaking to them for a couple of minutes, it all makes a difference.'

Sarah added: “We didn’t hold back on telling students how hard the work would be. Their enthusiasm and desire to help has bowled over many KGH staff. I am so proud of how well the students have behaved and how professional they have been.”

The KGH and Tresham College team are continuing to work together to recruit more students to support the Ward Host scheme over the coming weeks and months.

Picture caption:

  • Healthcare Assistant Diane Bristow,  Student Ward Host Tricia Bonifacio, and patient Pete Chapman in Sir Thomas Moore Ward