Michelle Dullaghan from Dundalk talks about her experience working as a healthcare assistant


Michelle Dullaghan from Dundalk talks about her experience working as a healthcare assistant

In this feature interview we get an insight into a typical day working as a Healthcare Assistant.

Michelle Dullaghan from Dundalk works with Bluebird Care North East which provides homecare services in counties Cavan, Monaghan and Louth.

Michelle has worked with the company for a year and a half but comes from a family of carers – both her mother and grandmother have worked as healthcare assistants.

“When I had my children I decided to stay at home and give them my time, energy and full attention. However, when they both started school, I found myself at home alone and I really wanted to do something for me. I had studied social care in Northern Ireland and had experience working in the community setting.

“I was aware of Bluebird Care and their work in homes right across the North East and I plucked up the courage to attend one of their Recruitment Open Days. Very quickly it became apparent that what I was looking for in a job, they could offer me.

“Specifically I wanted to work with young people and children, I wanted to work in a community setting and not in a hospital or a nursing home; I needed flexible hours so that I could be home for my children but I also wanted career progression opportunities. All of this was, and is possible with Bluebird Care,” says Michelle.

What is homecare?

Homecare is a service provided by Bluebird Care to people of all ages and of varying degrees of ability in their own homes. Bluebird Care provides homecare to children and adults with intellectual and phyiscal disabilities; older people living alone or those recuperating from illness. Care is provided at times that suit the needs of customers and care packages are designed using a person-centred approach. Bluebird Care employ healthcare assistants, personal assistants, registered nurses, care supervisors and care coordinators – so lots of opportunities for people looking for a career in care.

Choosing a career in care

Michelle studied social care for two years, however a Fetac Level 5 certificate in a healthcare discipline will qualify you for a role as a healthcare assistant with Bluebird Care.

“My course gave me a great appreciation for working with people with disabilities. Bluebird Care offer me a wide range of opportunities in this area. I really enjoy working with young people and children with intellectual disabilities in particular. I really love social care and I also work on occasion with older people.

“Currently I work in Dundalk Insitiute of Technology as a Personal Assistant for a student with a physical disability. It’s a very rewarding job and I feel I do make a difference in her life. I am somebody to talk to, I will listen, I help her with daily activites – just to make everyday living seamless, as it should be.

“I particularly enjoy working with young people, children with autism and I actually worked for a time as a Special Needs Assistant in a school providing one-to-one support to a child with autism. Despite having speech and behavioural challenges, the care really helped her and the teachers have noted her improvements in the school environment.

“I also work with mothers who suffer with depression. In a social care context to give them support and to help them through a difficult time. The role is challenging but I feel I can make a difference in a non-judgemental environment.

“I come from a family of healthcare assistants – my Mum works as a carer and my brother is training to become one. My grandmother was also a healthcare assitant. As a child I remember volunteering my time to work with older people in nursing homes – so it’s a vocation that suited me,” says Michelle.

Is a Healthcare Assistant job for everyone?

Michelle says that if you have an interest in people it’s a very rewarding job. “It’s a good career choice, there are options for advancement and there is plenty of support. We are just like one big family. We all support each other to ensure we deliver the best of care.

“They are very understanding in terms of rostering and bearing in mind that I have children. To date I’ve gained an awful lot of experience and this in turn has given me confidence to progress my career. Looking forward I would love to possibly go back to college to take on greater responsibility and grow in the Bluebird Care business.”

What is a typical day?

“There probably isn’t a typical day as each day is different which is a positive thing. I start at 9am and meet my customer in DKIT and we go to class. I assist her during class time, such as taking notes. I also am there as a friend and comrade to come to with any concerns. I would also speak to lecturers and help her voice her own concerns. Really just to make sure the college experience is seamless for her.

“I work 9am – 5pm, we have lunch together. Integrating with her peers is important. We all come together as a group. I think I have helped her to be more confident and she has really embraced her new environment.

Are you happy in your job?

“I absolutely love my job. I hear so many people give out about their jobs, but I love going to work every day. I enjoy working with people and knowing that I make a difference.

“There is a certain misconception about homecare. People may think that it is a serivce just for older people. However there are so many young people and children who need homecare support. It’s also very important for family members to get that bit of support and respite. They are very appreciative of the support and it helps everyone and the family dynamic. Families have told me that they feel safe and secure in the knowledge that you are there to support them.

“Tea and chats become important – a listening ear and a non-judgemental voice and being part of their lives. You are a support network for the entire family.

“I would certainly recommend to anyone considering going into healthcare to join Bluebird Care as they will find a working week that will suit your own personal life. They will also help you progress and encourage you to get more training which they provide on-the-job.

“Getting my job with Bluebird Care gave me great confidence and also gave me a new sense of myself after being at home raising my children for those years. I am now making a difference to my customers and to my own family. I’m also happier within myself.”