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Sandra Shaul
Healthcare assistant

Working with elderly patients is uniquely challenging, but as a result, incredibly rewarding. I go home feeling like I've made a difference, and it's often because I genuinely have brightened someone's day.

I've been an HCA at Addenbrooke's for four years, and I've spent all of that time working with elderly patients. They often come to us with more complex needs than younger people, and although many are still independent, lots are confused and forgetful, which can make them act in strange ways. 

I'm involved in the day-to-day care patients need to stay well, clean and healthy. The people that I look after are usually less mobile, and may not be able to hear or see very well, which can be quite scary considering where they are. Giving them plenty of time, lots of compassion and patience makes them much more relaxed.

Lots of people are unsure about how to approach elderly patients, especially if they're confused or aggressive. Try and remember that they're not themselves (as their families often tell us), and that this can be a very frightening experience. I always introduce myself before doing anything, and it's nice when they do remember my name!

This is a hard job, both physically and mentally, but working with elderly patients you really do see the difference that you make to their lives.