People Story | Brenda Riley | Dermatology Healthcare Assistant

Brenda Riley, Healthcare Assistant (HCA), Dermatology joined DMC in August 2022 and tells us all about what she loves about her role and how it fits within her lifestyle.

“I’ve always had a passion for caring for others”

Growing up in the Caribbean Island of Dominica, from a tender age I’ve always wanted to be a nurse. I’ve always loved caring for others. Even at school, I would look after those who are smaller than me. The opportunity to go into nursing didn’t materialise and therefore I had a broad range of jobs including secretarial, working in a computer company, petrol station assistant, care worker and my final job was in a supermarket deli decorating cakes.

“I became a HCA in 2008”

Because my dad was British, I was able to come over to England and I came here in 2007. I knew I didn’t want to go back to the job I was doing previously, and I had to opportunity to do an access course in nursing and midwifery which I commenced but wasn’t able to complete, for a number of reasons. I applied for a HCA role in an NHS hospital. I excelled at the interview and in numeracy and literacy and was so happy to be selected for the job in October 2008 despite strong competition.

On the first day of work it was a very hard shift, we were short staffed and I was new in the role. They told me to just follow them and watch what they were doing and eventually I got to know everything and went on study days.

“I’ve put all my efforts into being a great HCA”

Over the years, I’ve been a HCA in many different departments, including the dementia team and have learnt so much. I can tell a lot of things about patients.

Having never had the opportunity to be a RCN, despite many colleagues telling me I would make a great nurse and because I’m nearly 57, I’ve lost the zeal to do it. So I opted for early retirement last year and my last day was 31 Jan 2022. In May 2022, I started back at the hospital part time. A doctor who was a family friend told me about DMC Healthcare and the HCA dermatology role and I thought it sounded really interesting so I started working with DMC part time in August 2022.

“I love working with DMC”

I didn’t have dermatology experience previously but my colleague is a very good teacher and every day you learn something different. Compared to the hospital which is more complex and you are under constant pressure, this role is all about chaperoning the patient through their treatment and supporting the doctor. This includes helping with minor surgeries. I was quite amazed as I’d heard of biopsies before but never realised they were so simple.

“My healthcare experience fits perfectly with the role”

With my experience, if I’m with a doctor and he’s doing a minor op, I would be able to tell if the patient is becoming unwell and I know what needs to be done.

“I love the team spirit at DMC”

The communication is very good and the team is very helpful. We all help each other and that speaks volumes for having a very good team. You can share your ideas as well.

“DMC is so flexible”

It works well as I do two 12 hour days with the hospital and two shorter days with DMC. They are able to fit around my schedule, as I also help to look after my granddaughter so it fits around my family life as well.

The other day, because of my experience with dementia, we had a patient with advanced dementia so I was able to try various techniques to get her settled. I know how to engage with a whole different range of patients, and I make sure I’m always being compassionate.

“My advice to others is to give DMC a go”

You need to be able to communicate, have computer skills and also everything done here requires privacy, dignity and patient confidentiality. If you have those qualities and skills, and willing to work as a team, you’ll love it here.

You need to have respect not only for the patient but for your colleagues and anyone you come into contact with. I would advise anyone to work at DMC as you may find it’s not as stressful as other roles, but you are making a real difference to people’s lives. You have to pay attention to everything that’s going around you, always be kind and considerate and engage the patient in conversation.

“I love it here you know”

I’m learning a lot, it’s a new experience and I’m working with a new team of workers but I feel very confident and very happy to be working here. I also like going to the different areas around Barking, Havering and Redbridge which makes it so interesting.

Outside of work, I love cooking, singing, dancing and socialising.

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