Patient view

Calm, capable and compassionate HCA helped me through severe depression

Yvonne Pywell praises Paula Lawrence’s devotion to her patients, which she says helped her through a stay at a centre for people with mental health difficulties.

Yvonne Pywell praises Paula Lawrence’s devotion to her patients, which she says helped her through a stay at a centre for people with mental health difficulties


Paula Lawrence (left) cared for Yvonne Pywell when she was at her lowest. Picture: Tim George

I met healthcare assistant Paula Lawrence within the first couple of days of my admission to the Welland Centre for patients with mental health difficulties. I was an inpatient for 12 days, right through Christmas.

My needs were varied. I was experiencing a severe depressive episode, with suicidal tendencies and extremely low mood; symptoms that required careful handling.

Calm and capable 

Paula seemed to be completely at ease in this acute mental health setting and her presence was felt. Her approach was always calm, caring and capable. Whenever Paula was on duty, the ward appeared to be more cohesive and orderly. 

She introduced herself to me and offered to listen, whether I was distressed or just needed someone to talk to. I spent a lot of time on my own in a separate lounge for female patients as I needed time on my own. However, every time she was on duty, Paula made an extra effort to find me and make sure I was okay. 

There were lots of small, caring gestures, such as walking in and placing a hot drink in front of me with a cheery comment and promising she would check in on me later. 


During her stay at the centre, Yvonne found Paula’s small, everyday
gestures a help. Picture: Tim George

She would often come to sit with me and chat, or more often just listen. Nothing appeared to faze her and she did not judge.

Paula’s real ability to listen was evident in how she would remember our conversations, such as family members’ names, relationships and mishaps. At the relevant time she would contribute to the conversation, with thoughtful and compassionate comments.

Selfless care

When I was at my lowest, Paula encouraged me into a bath, and dried my hair for me afterwards.

All her actions – the cups of tea, the daily chats, the care, the compassion, the understanding without judging, the ‘going the extra mile’ – she did without expecting recognition or praise. 

Her compassion shone out, and her devotion to patient care went far beyond any job description. 

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