Samantha Lia, 46, is completing a Senior Healthcare Support Worker apprenticeship with Capital City College Training (CCCT) at North Middlesex University Hospital.
She works in the radiography department where she looks after inpatients and those coming in for appointments including taking their blood pressure, temperature and pulse.
Samantha said: “I’ve been helping the doctors when they’re doing procedures, been there for patients when they may be feeling anxious or nervous, talking to them and making them feel at ease. Small things like that make a big difference.
“We see a lot of COVID patients because they might need to have an ultrasound to make sure their organs are aren’t deteriorating. It’s obviously a daunting time for the patient and a shock to them seeing everyone wearing PPE, so I try to make them feel comfortable.”
Samantha admitted COVID has forced her to pick things up more quickly during her apprenticeship and that she occasionally feels anxious about the virus.
She said: “Sometimes inpatients who have COVID don’t show up for their appointment. You wonder why, and when you look on the computer to find out what ward they’re in and see they’re deceased it hits you.”
Samantha has strived to remain positive despite the huge impact of the pandemic on NHS staff and patients and says she has been inspired by those working around her.
“I try to stay optimistic and look on the bright side,” she said. “I like to feel I’ve made a difference to someone’s day, even if it’s just in a small way. It’s a nice feeling.”
She recalled on one occasion how she helped support a man with learning disabilities who was worried about undergoing an ultrasound scan.
“It was only a minor procedure and he had a carer with him, but he was in a strange place, surrounded by strange people and for him it was scary,” she said.
“He wouldn’t let anyone near him and was pushing everyone away, so I just started talking to him. I said, ‘I will show you what we are going to do and that there is nothing to worry about’. After that he calmed down, had his procedure and everything was fine.”
Samantha, from Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, previously worked for Morrisons for more than 15 years and decided to change career after a relative who is a retired nurse suggested she consider working in healthcare.
Samantha said: “When the apprenticeship role came up I thought I didn’t have a chance because I’m slightly older than most people who apply. I got a call to say I’d got the job the same day I had an interview. I couldn’t believe it, I was overjoyed.”
Samantha started on a Level 2 apprenticeship in May 2018 and has since progressed to Level 3, the equivalent of studying at A Level.
“I don’t even know where to start. I’ve had so much support from my coach at CCCT and learnt so much,” she said. “I can’t think of a better way to learn. I’ve definitely found the right role for me, I just wish that I’d done it sooner.”
CCCT is part of Capital City College Group (CCCG) and is London’s largest provider of further education and apprenticeships, including healthcare and business roles in the NHS.