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Josefine Caesar, winner of the QSNA 2023 in the category of healthcare assistant/healthcare assistant students

Hello Josefine, who are you?

I'm Josefine Caesar. At 33 years old, I live in Kil with my partner Markus Holmgren and our incredibly cute puppy, Greta. I embody a blend of pink sparkle, determination, and creativity, enjoying crafting both digitally and in my cozy craft room, armed with a glue gun or sewing machine. You'll often hear me say, "Wow, that looks nice, but I bet I could make it myself." I'm someone who can't sit still for long, dislikes being alone, and finds joy in almost everything. My interests include devouring romantic novels, exploring nature, spending quality time with family and friends, and attending hockey games, musicals, and theater.

Do you feel that innovation is encouraged at your workplace?

I believe that my workplace is supportive of innovation efforts. Ideas aimed at enhancing or simplifying our tasks are warmly welcomed by both management and colleagues, ensuring that we are heard and valued.

How do you envision your future role in healthcare? Are there particular areas or challenges you're especially passionate about?

At the moment, I'm quite happy where I am, working in surgery. I enjoy the patient demographic, the fast-paced environment, and the dynamic nature of the work. What stands out to me is the significant role that we, as healthcare assistants, play, and the close collaboration with nurses. It feels like we're a real team, helping each other out. My colleagues and I get along so well that going to work feels like meeting up with friends.

Considering the trend of an aging and increasingly ill population in Sweden, I question how long my body can withstand the rigors of healthcare work, especially given the current work environment, physical strain, and financial conditions. When the time comes that my body can no longer keep up, I'd like to shift gears and pursue a career as a healthcare educator, teaching at a high school. I have a passion for teaching and believe I would enjoy working with teenagers. This career path would allow me to continue contributing to healthcare by preparing the next generation of healthcare assistants.

As the recipient of the Queen Silvia Nursing Award, you'll serve as the competition's ambassador for a year. What are your reflections on embracing this role? During your tenure, are there specific topics you're eager to explore or discuss further?

Above all, I am deeply honored to serve as this year's ambassador. The prospect excites me, and I'm looking forward to the unique and engaging experiences it will bring. I'm keen to share insights into my profession, especially the unique challenges and rewards of working night shifts. Additionally, I'm particularly interested in deepening my understanding of Queen Silvia's contributions to dementia care. Enhancing my knowledge on dementia is crucial, as it not only elevates my professional capabilities but also reflects the widespread presence of dementia patients in various settings, including my own workplace. Furthermore, I'm enthusiastic about learning more about the foundation's initiatives. By sharing these insights on my social media platforms, I aim to raise awareness and foster a broader understanding of these important issues among the public.

How did your winning idea, "the helping glass," come about, and what impact do you envision it making?

In the early stages of my career as a healthcare assistant, I identified a significant challenge faced by many elderly individuals: the struggle to drink from standard glasses due to reduced mobility in their necks and heads. This difficulty is most noticeable when individuals cannot tilt their heads back like those with full mobility, causing their nose to bump against the glass's edge and preventing them from drinking all the liquid. This issue becomes particularly pronounced when assisting with meals, and it's further complicated for those who use wheelchairs with high backrests, restricting their movement even more.

The solutions currently available, such as straws or sippy cups, often lack a sense of dignity. They're usually made from a softer, sometimes clouded plastic and come in colors that don't seem suited for adults. This can be problematic, especially since many elderly and dementia patients live at home for a long time. Adapting something as fundamental as a glass for their meals can be distressing for both them and their families.

I'm not dismissing the utility of straws and sippy cups; however, I believe there's a strong demand for an alternative solution. I envisage many who currently struggle with standard glasses would greatly benefit from this new option, enhancing the sense of connection and dignity for both the elderly and their families. This glass could mark the difference between needing assistance and drinking independently, which aligns with our goal of preserving personal autonomy. Beyond being merely functional, it aims to be inclusive and to cultivate a sense of community.

Who or what has been your greatest source of inspiration or mentorship throughout your career in healthcare?

During my time at a nursing home in Säffle, before I had even begun my formal training, I worked alongside two healthcare assistants named Mona and Gudrun. They were instrumental in sparking my love for the profession. Imagine those seasoned professionals who have dedicated their lives to their work and still exhibit a burning passion for what they do, consistently going above and beyond in every shift out of sheer dedication. Witnessing the care and attention they extended to the residents was not only inspiring but working beside such individuals was immensely enjoyable. At 18, I absorbed invaluable lessons on caregiving, developed a deep respect for the elderly, and cultivated a profound appreciation for our profession. Mona and Gudrun became the epitome of the healthcare assistant I aspired to be, embodying the energy and enthusiasm I aim to convey to patients, their families, and colleagues alike.

I've found that nearly every workplace I've been a part of has boasted at least one or two individuals like Mona and Gudrun. It's these kinds of people who continue to inspire me the most—those who mirror the qualities of Mona and Gudrun.

How has your experience working as a healthcare assistant influenced your perspective on healthcare and the healthcare assistant role?

Reflecting on my journey, starting as an 18-year-old studying media in high school with aspirations towards a career in IT, only to land a summer job at a nursing home, my initial feelings were mixed, to say the least. At that time, I couldn't have imagined choosing to become a healthcare assistant. Yet, it was the passionate healthcare assistants I met there who profoundly impacted my outlook on the profession and motivated me to pursue a career in healthcare.

There's a common misconception, one I shared as an 18-year-old, that healthcare assistants turn to this field as a last resort or because they have no other choice. However, my experience has shown me this couldn't be further from the truth. The field is filled with talented and dedicated individuals who make a significant difference every day. Most importantly, I've come to understand that being a healthcare assistant encompasses much more than just providing personal care; it's a role of immense skill and heart.

Working in healthcare is undeniably both fulfilling and strenuous. How do you manage to strike a balance between your career and personal life? Do you engage in any hobbies or activities that help you relax and maintain your enthusiasm?

When I initially began my stint in surgery, I was assigned to rotating shifts, covering mornings, evenings, and nights. This schedule was particularly challenging for me since I struggle with mornings and found it hard to sleep between shifts, especially when transitioning from evening to morning shifts. The breakthrough came when I had the chance to switch exclusively to night shifts. Markus, my partner, was initially doubtful, fearing it would exacerbate my constant tiredness—there were times he'd find me asleep on the bedroom floor in the afternoons. However, we agreed I'd give night shifts a try for six months, and it turned out to be a game-changer for both my personal well-being and our relationship. Having a consistent schedule greatly improved my situation, as I developed a sleep routine that suits me, and importantly, it afforded Markus and me more quality time together.

One of the main hurdles I face in winding down from work is finding activities that engage my mind without taxing my body. Over the years, I've become more attuned to my body's needs for rest, while my creative pursuits have provided a perfect solution. They allow me to enjoy quiet days at home, working on small projects with the accompaniment of an audiobook, striking that delicate balance between mental engagement and physical rest.


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