Coronavirus: Day in the life of a student hospital cleaner

Categories: School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

Ellie Macdonald, who is in her second year of study as a BA (Hons) Broadcast Journalism student at the University of Salford, is fighting on the frontline against the Coronavirus.


Ellie works as a cleaner in the A&E department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and has been documenting her experiences in a series of daily audio diaries.

She said: “My experience at work so far has been an emotional rollercoaster! It has had its highs and lows but most importantly I have been supported by my work colleagues, friends, boyfriend and my family.”

“I have felt very anxious and had days where all I’ve wanted to do is cry and then I’ve had days where I’m full of energy. It has been a very good experience,” she added.

One of Ellie’s key roles is deep cleaning “hot zone” isolation areas where suspected Coronavirus patients are being treated. Taking down curtains, dismantling beds and cupboards before deep cleaning every inch to make sure no trace of the virus is left behind are all part of Ellie’s working day.

She said: “Every time a patient leaves the pod, me and the team, wearing protective clothing, move in to deep clean the area.”

But Ellies job isn’t just keeping the wards clean and making sure patients have their masks fitted properly, she also spends time offering a kind word, a smile, or a cup of tea for the dozens of terrified patients.

“It’s a frightening time at the hospital and every time we have a slightly quiet day, we worry it’s the calm before the storm.”

“Every so often it comes home to me just how awful this situation is, especially when I see a patient struggling, but day to day it’s an honour to do my job, and working with the most amazing team here means we all support each other, and I know we’ll get through,” she said.

Now her audio series has been picked up by the local media and is being shared on platforms Salford Now and broadcasted on Radio 5Live.

She said: “I record my audio diaries every day. There is another lot coming out very soon. They will continue to be shared throughout the pandemic.”

Ellie’s dedication for sharing her story means balancing University work can become challenging, she said: “Balancing my University work with my job has been tough but I am getting through it. I’ve had full support from my tutors and to have my work featured on 5Live is so exciting! Although I have been doing a lot of it after work or of a weekend, which means I get very little time to myself, it feels good to share the experience of being a cleaner because we can be pushed aside sometimes.”

You can listen to Ellie’s audio diaries on Salford Now’s Soundcloud

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk