The auxiliary team at Fitzpatrick Referrals Oncology and Soft Tissue centre is responsible for the all-round care of each patient that is admitted to the hospital. It is their role to ensure that the patient’s stay is as stress-free and comfortable as possible to promote their healing and ensure their happiness throughout their stay.
The auxiliary teamwork in two-week shifts, their daily duties rotating between ward, surgical, prep and then finally chemotherapy. Teamwork is very important; staying ahead of schedule and managing all of the patients and their needs requires constant communication between the entire team. All auxiliaries have experience and are passionate in the field of animal husbandry and management.
By rotating between ward, surgical and prep, we are able to learn every aspect of the role enabling us to diversify our skill-set. By moving roles every few weeks you’re able to constantly progress by applying new skills to other jobs, which at times overlap and require us to take initiative.
Working in wards the auxiliaries walk, feed, clean and groom the patients whilst they stay at the hospital. Each of our patient’s needs are unique, both physically and emotionally. This is both a clinical and hands-on role – from running bloods to handling the animals during surgery. Responsibilities can vary hugely depending on the patient’s specific requirements. Ward auxiliaries provide reassurance to our patients during examinations and help comfort patients in postoperative recovery.
These animals are entrusted to us and in turn we treat them as our own pets. Helping to calm them down and comfort them prior to surgery and feel at home afterwards is incredibly rewarding.
Working in prep, the auxiliaries are responsible for setting up the theatre according to the surgeon’s needs for each surgery. The team liaise with the surgeons prior to each procedure to highlight any specific requirements in advance. It is fundamental that the team ensure that the surgical site is as a-septic as possible, cleaning the patient and clipping the hair around the surgical site helps reduce any infection and promotes good health and healing postoperatively.
Working as a surgical auxiliary requires an in-depth technical knowledge of surgical equipment. Because of the specialist surgeries that some of our patients undergo, it is important to understand the correct instruments for each operation. Fitzpatrick Referrals prides itself on executing routine surgeries to a high standard of excellence. It is, therefore, crucial to constantly familiarise the auxiliary team with the latest equipment required for each surgery, creating an atmosphere of ongoing learning.
It is important to be able to think on your feet and remain one step ahead at all times to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Every day is a learning process where you add and refine to your skills. Although as a practice we are still in our infancy, we are quickly expanding.
Chemotherapy involves a lot of preparation – from organising and readying the therapy products to appropriately disposing of the patient’s faeces to ensure everything is completely sterile. Creating a stress-free environment for the animal prior to surgery and during recovery is fundamental, as well as forming an understanding of each patient’s dietary requirements. This may mean going that extra length to source the correct food and hand-prepare it. It is essential to comfort and aid patients, particularly those with loss of appetite after chemotherapy, so as to ensure the healing process goes as smoothly as possible.
It is rewarding being able to follow a case from the theatre to the wards enabling you to be a part of the patient’s journey from start to finish. Each area comes with a different perk and a different challenge. The theatre has the excitement of surgery, whereas working in wards is fulfilling when you gain a patients trust and encourage them to eat for the first time after chemotherapy.