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Workshops introduce new HCAs to fundamental skills - Waikato DHB

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The importance of having a skilled healthcare assistant (HCA) workforce has been a focus of Waikato DHB’s education programmes for many years, and it took another step forward with the inaugural Fundamental Skills workshop on 15 July.

While other Waikato DHB programmes have focused on certification and developmental programmes for those already in the workforce, the Fundamental Skills workshop addresses the needs of new HCAs who are still orientating to their job. Currently new HCAs are orientated on the job and are ‘buddied’ with a more experienced HCA on the ward. The workshop supplements this by teaching a consistent way of doing core things and ensuring everything essential is covered. The workshop will be routinely included in every new HCA’s orientation.

The DHB’s Healthcare Workers Support team has planned this kind of training for quite some time now, working with a group of experienced HCAs and nurse educators to identify and prioritise learning needs.

"We built it from there," says Nicola Syrett, a nurse educator in the team. "The support we got was phenomenal - we had a nutritionist, physiotherapist and urology clinical nurse specialist all volunteer their time and input to develop skill sessions.

She says the hardest part was narrowing the day down to eight topics.

The first Fundamental Skills workshop took place on 15 July. The training team consisted of experienced HCAs, registered nurses, educators, coordinators, physiotherapists and a nutritionist. Topics ranged from HCAs’ roles and responsibilities, effective communication, partnering for culturally supportive care, to infection control, bed sponging, catheter cares, use of assistive moving devices, safe feeding and oral care.

Syrett says they received excellent feedback from participants who valued the opportunity to learn and practice skills in a safe space.

"Some felt they gained new insight into the patient experience, for example learning what it feels like to be fed when you are visually impaired."

She paid a special tribute to the experienced HCAs who volunteered as trainers - "They went above and beyond duty to maximise the learning experience for their new colleagues."

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