28 Oct

Ward Stars HCA Skills

1. Practice Context

Here are some examples of the practice context, or the occasions during the shift, where you are likely to be using the following (impressive!) list of skills and qualities:

  • Admissions
  • One-to-ones with patients
  • Care and treatment planning
  • Helping patients to develop their self-managing skills
  • Activity programme
  • Observations and engagement
  • Escorting patients (home, appointments etc)
  • Ward rounds and reviews
  • Attending to visitors
  • Housing, finances and employment
  • Meal times
  • Community meetings
  • Medication dispensing
  • Examinations and assessments
  • Physical observations
  • Patient moving and handling
  • Making and receiving phone calls
  • Liaising with external and internal professionals
  • Community groups and services
  • Incidents
  • Handovers
  • Projects and research

2. Personal qualities

a. Enabling patients

  • Ability to risk-assess, and to take ‘positive risks’
  • Skilled in relational security, including using trust to de-escalate tension and aggression
  • Advocacy knowledge and skills
  • Ability to foster hope
  • Appreciation of importance of faith and spirituality to patients
  • Ability to motivate others
  • Appreciative of cultural differences
  • Approachable
  • Supportive
  • Observant
  • Welcoming
  • Considerate
  • Courteous
  • Curiosity
  • Calm
  • Ability to think quickly and carefully
  • Optimistic
  • Sense of humour
  • Perseverance
  • Enthusiasm
  • Ability to keep things in perspective
  • Ethical
  • Diplomatic
  • Coaching skills
  • Trusting and trustworthy
  • Reliable
  • Consistent
  • Dependable
  • Non-judgemental openness to different lifestyles
  • Appropriately but not excessively boundaried
  • Collaborative
  • Ability to promote patient autonomy
  • Ability to co-produce with patients
  • Being a positive role-model
  • Likeable
  • Welcoming

b. Communication

  • Listening skills
  • Using open and closed questions
  • Comfortable with silence
  • Adaptive communication
  • Structuring conversations
  • Creative conversing
  • Using visual aids and symbols
  • Imparting information
  • Body language
  • Asking for clarification
  • Conversation openers / starters
  • Mentalising (being ‘mind-aware’)
  • Laid-back social conversations
  • Ability to chat about popular culture (TV, films etc)
  • Very basic (eg 5 – 10 word) vocabulary in relevant community languages
  • Focus
  • Ability to see things from different perspectives
  • Psychological contact

c. Relationships with others

  • Child-friendly
  • Animal-friendly
  • Appreciative of volunteers
  • Caring for carers
  • Hospitality & kindness to visitors
  • Role-modelling
  • Good relations with external agencies
  • Nurturing ward community
  • Provide soothing psychological containment
  • Effective working with MDT and non-clinical colleagues

d. Emotional intelligence

  • Self-awareness
  • Coping strategies
  • Resilient
  • Breaking bad news sensitively
  • Responding to personal or sexualised questions and comments
  • Knowing own limitations
  • Helping to safely release patients’ tension
  • Sensing the feelings under the words

e. Other personal qualities

  • Innovative
  • Motivated
  • Ability to express appreciation of others
  • Assertive
  • Willingness to adapt to constantly changing situations
  • Thoughtful, reflective
  • Ability to compromise constructively
  • Stable
  • Insightful
  • Ability to set and achieve goals
  • Objective
  • Ability to prioritise effectively

f. Integrity

  • Courage
  • Knowing when to be extra sensitive
  • Respect
  • Commitment
  • Apologising
  • Honesty
  • Appreciating difference
  • Loyalty
  • Knowing when to stop probing
  • Willingness to challenge institutional rules and behaviour

g. Therapeutic

  • Supporting self-exploration
  • Instillation of hope
  • Consistency
  • Nurturing community
  • Facilitation skills
  • Group dynamics & use of group structure
  • Bereavement skills
  • Psychoeducation (eg running Hearing Voices groups)
  • Supporting patients’ positive relationships with each other and with staff
  • Clarifying
  • Providing feedback
  • Knowing and owning own reactions
  • Awareness of the emotional climate

h. Practical

  • Knowledge of physical healthcare
  • Skills in complementary therapies (eg aromatherapy, hand massage)
  • Pampering, beauty, grooming skills
  • Knowledge of and good relationships with local community groups
  • Social media skills
  • Shareable hobbies – eg music, art, dance
  • Computer and internet skills
  • Hospitality skills eg meal presentation
  • Knowledge of relevant housing issues
  • Knowledge of relevant money issues eg debt

3. Mental health skills

a. The basics

Biopsychosocial origins
Diagnoses, including their limitations and penalties
Social/life (work, home, relationships, animals etc)
Fulfilling occupation – paid work, study, volunteer
Spirituality, nature, the outdoors

  • Therapies (talking, creative, complementary, individual, group)
  • Mindfulness
  • Self-management, including recovery/self-help tools eg Ward Buddy
  • Medication
  • Stress management
  • Anger management
  • Arts and mental health
  • Mental health services – community, inpatient, statutory, voluntary, private

b. Patient care

  • Understanding and appreciation of the effect mental illness has on patients
  • Self-esteem, stigma and disclosure
  • Mental health for women, men, kids, old people, BME, LGBT patients
  • Physical health (including exercise)
  • Smoking, drink, drugs
  • Food, diet nutrition
  • Culturally responsive practice
  • Communicating with acutely mentally ill people
  • Creative communicating with patients who have limited English language
  • Internet and social media issues – for patients, staff, the Trust, the public
  • Nights

c.Patients’ rights and empowerment

  • Recovery Principles
  • Patient involvement and feedback
  • Patient self-management, user movement
  • Promoting responsibility
  • Knowing when and when not to give advice
  • Mutual support, peer support
  • Advocacy
  • Ward safety including:

Advance statements
Relational security (inc creating a therapeutic alliance)
Missing patients
Conflict prevention and resolution
Self-harm and Suicidality
Physical safety
Personal safety
Therapeutic engagement vs observation
MAPA (including coercive interventions eg RT, seclusion)
Fire safety

d. The ward, hospital, Trust

  • Role flexibility
  • Teams – ward community, ward team, MDT, working with consultants. Non-clinical staff including senior management and the Board
  • Record keeping, sharing and confidentiality
  • Managing meetings (handovers, community meetings, ward rounds)
  • Time Management
  • Problem-solving
  • Infection control
  • Food hygiene

e. External colleagues

  • GPs
  • Dentists
  • Community Psychiatric Nurses

f. Coping!

  • Boundaries while bringing your whole self to work
  • Support, supervision and reflective practice
  • Real life practice – coping with…. boredom, anger, despair, grief, pessimism, attachment, loss
  • Utilising catharsis
  • Stamina
  • Self-understanding
  • Prioritising (we’d recommend Wardipedia’s Ladder of Priorities)
  • Contributing to mentally healthy and happy workplaces – appreciative and empathetic culture
  • Humour!