Trudie Golby started work as a Hydrotherapy Assistant in 1984.
What was your role?
We had sort of a half day, in fact I was fulltime, so half day you worked in the water and then it was a reverse then, and then – say that was in the morning – and then in the afternoon you would reverse and you would work on the top, which is where… so when we were in the water we were showing patients, we were sort of trained by the physios to work in the water with the patients, giving them exercises and things. And then when we finished that then, our role in the afternoon then would be doing, helping them into their swimming costumes and helping them with their towels and sorting all that out and helping them get dressed and things.
We had like blue and white striped dresses and the men had white tops and white trousers. And then we wore – what did we wear – oh, flip-flops when we were round the top and that. Then in the water, swimming costumes. Then we used, everybody, the patients and the staff used these great big fluffy blue and white – I think they even had, they might have even had the Pump Rooms on them – towels, yeah. And then there were sort of all, when we worked the top bit, there was all cubicles. So individual little cubicles where the patients would book in, say they were here for their treatment in the water and then us as helpers would show them to the cubicles and help them if they needed, you know, undressing or whatever, help them get into their costumes. So they got little beds with little white sheets and the pillow and [laughs], so if some people liked to lie down beforehand or afterwards, that’s what you needed to do afterwards. When we took the people out of the pool, it was our role to walk them up the ramp – the towels were in great big cupboards, hot cupboards where they were warm - so as soon as the person got out the water you had a hot towel, great big massive like bath sheet, hot towel, and then they would be escorted… oh, and the costumes were taken off there and then on the ramp, sort of underneath the towel, you had to discreetly sort of help them, take them down and then the patient would be escorted back to their little cubicle and they would lie down to rest for probably about ten, fifteen minutes and then if they needed helping getting dressed we would help or you just check on how they were or they might want to dress themselves.
If people couldn’t walk down, because there was like a ramp and there was a, so there was a metal rail round the side of the pool and then there was a ramp that you walked down into the water and if people couldn’t walk into the water, if they couldn’t walk, there was like a chair, metal chair where it would tip up. So it would have like two wheels on the back which you’d tip up and you’d wheel the person down into the water and then you would do the same on the way out as well. But there was also, there was also hoists and things that we used on the top if people were, if we were unable – say you had somebody and they were in the chair, when you got them out of the pool and you had to bring them back up, then if you needed assistance getting them from the chair to the… there was hoists, yeah.
Could you take me through a normal working day?
Well I started at eight, but that was because I did the cleaning first. So I did an hour’s cleaning. I think the regular start was nine o’clock. So I would clean the pool and then I would clean all the, sort of outside the tops and things on the floor, mop the floor and just check everything was all clean, but just in those areas, in the pool area. That was our duty, I think there were other cleaners for the other areas, but because we were there we did that duty. And then, let’s have a think. And then we would either, say we’d know what we were doing, so if we were working in the pool we would sit in the staff room. Our staff room was the old, what’s now the Turkish room and very different than what it is now. We had like, there was a bit like a cubicle area which I think is where, if I’m thinking where it is now, it was over to the right somewhere where it was, I think the cubicle bits are there still I think, there were like three cubicles and they had like a curtain across the front and that’s where we’d get changed to get your swimming costume on and then we had lockers and things to put our clothes in and that. And then there would be like comfy chairs around and you would sit in your comfy chairs until you were called to sort of – and then we had a little, it was like a little – well not home from home – but it had a little microwave and a little kettle [laughs] and… ‘cos really I suppose, when you were on duty there wasn’t really anything else that you would do, you know. So we would wait there until we were called and then they would call us through when there were patients. And then you would maybe see, I think about four, four patients in a morning and then you – but you would have a break in the middle of that. But it just depends on how busy it was as regard to how many people you saw. And then so what you would do is, if there was a gap in between a patient, you would go back, come out in your costume, keep your costume on, wrap yourself in a towel and wait in the staff room until you’re called again then to go back in the pool. So there’s a lot of sort of – not always, it depends, but you’d go in and out a lot, yeah. So you get used to being in the warm and then being a bit chilly. Because it was an old building, you know, it was chilly at times in the winter and stuff because I suppose, difficult to heat a big building like that really, but then you know as soon as you got in the pool it was nice and – that’s why sometimes at the end of the day you’d go in like the Jacuzzi or, the vortex or something, you know, just to sort of finish it. And we’d finished the patients of course. And you’d have your lunch and it then would be, the afternoon then, I think we finished – I’m just trying to think of the timings. I think our official hours finished at five o’clock.
What did you think of the decision to close the Pump Rooms?
I mean we were outraged when we heard about it really because I suppose we knew we were going to lose our jobs and things, you know. But I think a lot of the decision also was the fact that the Pump Rooms is in such a state because the money hadn’t been spent on it over the years and it was getting into a decayed state, it was a matter of when the NHS then decided to pull the funding there wasn’t enough money to try and sort of do any other alternative because the Pump Rooms was in such a state anyway.