Chris Hawkeswood: Health Care Assistant (HCA), HMP Hewell

Chris Hawkeswood: Health Care Assistant (HCA), HMP Hewell

Chris had a successful career in care, running a carers agency, but her work life balance left her feeling that things had to change. Little did she know that not only would answering a job advert give her back her family time, but it would also lead to a career that would allow her to change lives.

Chris said: “In my previous job I worked 9 to 5 and I was on the road all the time. On top of that I was on call every weekend and my time was not my own or my family’s. The job as a Health Care Assistant (HCA) at HMP Hewell had a shift pattern of three long days a week, and those days change according to the rota. I worked one weekend in three, leaving me four days during the school week to be at home when my children came home. It was ideal in the holidays.”

Chris was not sure working life in a prison would be for her. She said: “In all honesty was not convinced my time there would be longer than the vetting period. Seven years later I’m still here and loving every moment.

“My colleagues are great and my patients are not the ‘bad boys’ you would expect they are: they are just people who have made bad choices. The great thing is this is a job where you can make a real difference to people’s lives and futures.”

As an HCA Chris has a wide variety of responsibilities. She takes observations such as blood pressure, temperature, BMI measurements and blood oxygenation. She also takes blood samples, she stitches wounds and she supports the nursing team. She also carries out patient reviews – and this is where she knows she makes a real difference.

She said: “These are the conversations where prisoners open up. It gives us the chance to talk to them about their physical and mental health. As well as being able to refer them to specialist health services, we can also help them to plan for their release. We want to ensure they are able to face their future supported to give up drink or drugs, and that they are supported with the right networks to maximise their chances of success in the future.

“It is really rewarding to be able to help someone to put their life back on track and to ensure their overall wellbeing is where it should be.”

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