Skip to Main Content Skip to Site Map Skip to Accessibility Statement

Sharon McCusker, Domestic Assistant, Maternity Ward, South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen


What motivated you to pursue a career at South West Acute Hospital?

“Before I became a Domestic Assistant in the old Erne Hospital 25 years ago, I was a machinist in a local factory and had similar jobs since leaving school but really wanted something that better suited my family life, in particular for my son Daniel.  The jobs for cleaners was advertised in the local paper, the hours of 8am to 2pm really suited and I really did love cleaning, so figured why not apply!  Lucky for me I got the job and here I am 25 years on.”


Could you share a significant challenge you’ve faced in your role and how you overcame it to provide quality healthcare services?

“The biggest challenge of my career in the hospital so far has most definitely been Covid 19.  I was the designated Domestic Assistant for the Maternity Ward and at the start, as we all were in society, I was scared and fearful of what might become of us all.  We soon realised that those poor ladies coming in to deliver their babies were twice as scared!  That put it into perspective for me.  Before long it never phased me, as I knew I needed to do my job to the best of my ability, for the safety of all those mothers and babies. Being on the ward as long as I am, I was able to reassure all of those worried mothers and put them at ease at a time when they were very isolated and alone.”


How do you believe your role contributes to the well-being and recovery of patients within our community?

“I take great pride in my work and the job that I do.  I believe that my role is a vital and fundamental necessity of a safe and healthy hospital in order to provide the best care and offer the most impeccable facilities for our patients and staff.  You want to do your best to ensure that any patient or staff member that comes into our hospital leaves in better health and with a better outlook than the one they came in with.  My work as a Domestic Assistant is essential to ensuring that happens and ensuring our community as a whole are better off.”


Can you highlight a particular patient interaction or medical achievement that you are particularly proud of, and why?

“The Maternity ward has plenty of expecting mothers coming through its doors, full of hope and joy for what the future holds for them and it is such a positive place to be and most of the patient encounters and interactions are positive too.  However, sometimes there is not always good news for the mothers and the news they receive can often be scary, sad and heart-breaking.  Sometimes they just need someone to talk to, sometimes they just need to cry and other times they just need someone to listen.  Some patients can be in lying with their baby and you can quickly get attached to them and find yourself looking forward to checking in on them the next day at work and it is always gut wrenching when their news that day is devastating and you empathise with their significant loss and feel helpless that you cannot do more, but those patients stick with you and you always remember them.”


How do you ensure the delivery of compassionate and effective care in your specific healthcare discipline?

“My job entails me going in and out of patient rooms, thoroughly cleaning them to leave them ready for the day, so that means I tend to have quite a bit of patient interaction.  This is an aspect of my job that I truly enjoy.  They may have just delivered their beautiful baby or babies and are over the moon, overjoyed to share their excitement with you and tell you the baby’s names.  Sadly however, there is not always a happy story the other side of that door.  I am a compassionate person and I try to be a listening friendly ear to the bereaved parents who may not have been fortunate enough to go home with their beautiful babies.  Those days at work are hard days but I see it as just another aspect to my role in the hospital.”


What aspect of your work do you find most rewarding, and how does it resonate with your personal values and mission?

“I do take great pride in my work. I am proud of how well the Maternity Ward is kept and I enjoy maintaining it to a very high standard and whilst I am the Domestic Assistant following my rigorous cleaning routine, each room has a different patient, with a different story, most happy and some sad.  Despite anything that might be going on with me personally, I try to bring a smile and a positive friendly attitude to their room and in some small way make their day a little easier and brighter all whilst still doing my job as a cleaner.”


How do you manage the demands of your job, and what strategies do you employ to ensure exceptional healthcare service delivery?

“In my 25 years as a Domestic Assistant the job itself has broadly remained the same, although I would say that low staffing numbers in all areas of the hospital has put a strain and a heavy burden on all staff shoulders, yet there is an expectation and a responsibility for the cleanliness especially during Covid.  For me and Maternity Ward, I have my own wee routine and way of doing things I try to keep on top of it so that it is easier maintained.  Everyone just gets on with their job and ensures that the Hospital remains kept to the highest standard.”


Have there been any mentors or colleagues who have significantly influenced your practice, and in what way?

“When I started working 25 years ago, Anne Flanagan – Domestic Assistant, was a real mentor to me.  I would like to believe that her very high standards rubbed off on me.  She was a very proud person when it came to her job and how the work should be done and I was lucky to have her as a mentor because it made me the Domestic Assistant that I am today.  Over the years I was able to call her a friend and was privileged to have worked alongside her.”


What are your aspirations for the future, and how do you envision the evolution of your role within South West Acute Hospital?

“I love the ward that I work on and would hope to remain there for years to come.  Whilst the role of the Domestic Assistants hasn’t really changed in my 25 years and I don’t envisage it changing in the next 25 years either.  I would say that the role of all staff had to evolve during Covid and it was scary for everyone at the time. But we worked together as a team and supported each other, we just went to work every day and done what we always did.  The staff in the NHS worked tirelessly and evolved through the pandemic and I sincerely hope we never have to encounter the same again.”


How do you believe your efforts contribute to the overall excellence and advancement of healthcare services in our local community?

“The Domestic Assistants are exceptionally important and play a key role in the successful running of any hospital.  Without clean and sanitised rooms and wards, our hospitals couldn’t admit any patients into them, without the highest standards of cleanliness our hospital’s couldn’t prevent the spread of infection and ultimately would make patients sicker than when they were admitted.  Without the diligence of the Domestic staff our hospital could not function to the high, efficient and effective standards that they do.  I am proud to be one of them.”