Two long-serving staff members have been supported by the hospice to increase their skills and take the step up to becoming nursing associates.
Rachael Little and Hannah Allison, who have worked at the hospice for nine and 13 years respectively, have just graduated from the University of Cumbria after studying on the nursing associate programme for two years. Before completing the course, they were both healthcare assistants (HCAs) as part of the busy clinical team at the hospice.
Nursing associates are relatively new roles within the nursing team and work with healthcare assistants and registered nurses to deliver care. Nursing associates have the training and skills to bridge the gap between what HCAs routinely do and the practice that is undertaken by a registered nurse, such as working with admission/discharge paperwork and administering medication.
Supporting Hannah and Rachael with their training is part of the hospice’s commitment to help all staff develop their knowledge and skills and grow its own workforce for the future, helping not only to constantly improve patient care, but to also futureproof staffing.
Suzanne Garbarino, Clinical Lead at the hospice, said: “We have a highly skilled group of HCAs and they are all keen to develop their knowledge and skills. It is good practice to support and develop all staff and this leads to increased staff morale and increased patient outcomes.
“The staff who are seconded to do their training have been in employment for a period of time so we know they are committed to the organisation and already have some of the pre-existing skills needed to develop.
“The support for trainee nursing associates allows us to ‘grow our own’ nursing associates which increases retention and sustainability of the service. Training is a big part of the national agenda for palliative and end of life care, and a robust training programme is something we pride ourselves on here at the hospice.
“The current newly qualified nursing associates are role models for the HCAs and showcase the rewards the progression brings.”
Hannah is also a qualified nursery nurse and started out with the hospice as a Play and Activity Co-ordinator in Jigsaw before going on to do her care certificate and changing her role to become a healthcare assistant working in both Jigsaw and the adult in-patient unit.
Hannah said: “I am impressed by the high standard of care we provide to families, and I feel it is a privilege to work alongside a great team who always work so hard to enable us to provide each patient with a high standard of person-centred care.
“I always knew I would like to do an extra qualification to allow me to have a wider knowledge and skills to support me in my role so the apprentice nursing associate role was ideal as it allowed me to work alongside my learning. This involved attending other external placements as well as working within the hospice which allowed me to experience other healthcare settings and get a wide variety of experience and skills to allow me to support the patients we care for once I qualified.”
The nursing associate training has allowed both Hannah and Rachael to broaden their skillset, including things such as tracheostomy care, catheterisation, venepuncture and wound care. It has also enabled them to do admissions and discharge paperwork as well as write care plans to allow each patient to receive the individual care needs that they require.
“I feel extremely lucky to have worked with some extremely supportive professionals who have helped me in my learning journey and become equipped for my role once qualifying,” Hannah added.
“The nursing associate role is going to become a much-valued role within the hospice as it allows us to better support our nursing colleagues whilst they carry out other tasks. It is great that the hospice has allowed us to grow and develop and gain new skills which will allow us to provide a high standard of patient care to the children and adults that access Eden Valley Hospice and Jigsaw.”
Rachael said that the training has enabled her to take on more responsibility in her new role, such as administering medication.
Rachael said: “I was offered the chance to become a nursing associate and jumped at it as I’ve always wanted to do my nursing qualification, but it was always out my reach due to financial reasons. So, when the nursing associate role became available for apprentices it was perfect. I’m always keen to learn more and be able to support patients and the nursing team more.
“The nursing associate role will assist the other nurses in their role freeing them up for other duties, working well as a whole nursing team.”