Harminder Greenwood is one of Advantage Healthcare’s 160 community based renal technicians, providing renal dialysis to clients in their own homes.
The 39-year-old has worked for Advantage Healthcare for the last nine years. Harminder joined when she was looking for a flexible and rewarding career which would fit in with her family life. She lives in Sutton Coldfields along with her husband and two sons aged five and nine.
Now that her children are at school full-time, Harminder works on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesday and Fridays. As dialysis appointments are often mornings and evenings this means that Harminder can spend daytime with her family and be at home for the boys when they get back from school.
Each renal dialysis appointment takes around 40 minutes plus travel time. It involves checking the client’s weight and blood pressure, sometimes connecting and disconnecting the client to the dialysis machine and making sure that the equipment is working properly.
Harminder explained: “I love my job, I meet really nice people, the clients and their families. Even with early mornings, I’m cheerful at my job. I see people on a regular basis and become part of their lives. Even on Christmas day, I’ll spend a couple of hours seeing clients.”
Ward sisters at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham suggested that Harminder become a renal technician a number of years ago. She had got to know them as her dad was a dialysis patient there. In 2009, Harminder, who has worked as a healthcare assistant, in call centres and for a time as a prison careers adviser, applied for a local job with Advantage Healthcare (then Advantage Healthcare) and was delighted to be accepted. The job comes with a week’s training and full support from the branch and on-call team.
Harminder explained: “I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals with my dad. He had dialysis for many years as well as a kidney transplant. I know the impact of regular dialysis and how it affects not just the patient but their family as well. When I first took on the role I was a bit nervous but there is plenty of support, training and supervision.”
Advantage Healthcare technicians work regular but flexible hours. Most patients need two visits a day, some just one. They range in age from children up to elderly patients in their 80s. Dialysis at home is more convenient than going to hospital. This gives clients more time to spend with friends and family and pursue life goals such as career and studying.
Harminder said: “Kirsty who manages the rotas is the best supervisor I’ve had. She is on the end of the phone and is always happy to hear from me. I have the regular hours which suit me but I’m often working extra shifts and travelling to client’s homes when there is a need. It’s easy to say ‘yes’ to a job I enjoy and to help genuinely appreciative clients.”
“Being a renal technician is a really lovely, rewarding job. It’s a people centred role and I’ve built good relationships with patients and their families. It means that it’s inevitably it’s sad when a patient’s health deteriorates. The good days outweigh the bad days and I know personally how worthwhile this work is.”