Lee Mallia, from Leeds, wants to be a physiotherapist and initially thought his lack of GCSEs and muscular dystrophy would hold him back. One of his friends worked for the NHS and told him that apprenticeships were available. This appealed to Lee because qualifications weren’t needed by the NHS for an entry level apprenticeship.
Lee worked as a clinical support worker, helping look after patients. He tended to their general needs, helped them move around and regularly turned the patients at risk of developing pressure sores. He carried out clinical observations too, such as patients’ temperature and blood pressure, checking cannulations and blood sugar checks before mealtimes for patients who are diabetic.
Lee said: “If patients asked for help moving around, I encouraged them to be independent and to do it themselves first. I think being disabled myself helps us both. The best bit of the job was getting to know the patients on the ward as individuals. Depending on where you work, you look after quite a few elderly patients who often have a lot of stories to tell. I know I made a difference just by listening and getting to know them. The biggest challenge was not getting too attached to the patients. Obviously not everybody gets to go home from the ward so that can be tough, but it’s part of the job and a hospital counselling service is available if things got too much. I’ve worked on the ward a year now and still find it difficult losing someone, especially if I’ve got to know them. But I’m told it gets easier over time.”
Lee’s ambition is to become a physiotherapist. His apprenticeship qualification and experience of working with people in clinical support has helped him get a physiotherapy assistant job and put him on the path to his dream of becoming a physiotherapist.
Lee said: “An apprenticeship in health is definitely worth the experience. If you have qualifications already but need experience, it’s a way to do that and, if you don’t have any, it’s a way to get some. An apprenticeship is ideal for people like me.”