Getting in early is key to nurse recruitment

Stacey McCann, chief operating officer at Belong and NHS England’s former head of nursing strategy and commissioning.
Belong Wigan nurse, Lisa Wynne

Nurse recruitment was one of the defining issues of the recent election campaign and remains high on the agenda of care providers as we move into 2020. Promoting the rewards of nursing in social care has never been more vital as we compete with the NHS to attract and retain recruits, and offering students experience in the sector early in their training is key to achieving this. Belong villages are using a range of approaches to build links with local educational establishments and help establish an alternative career pathway for newly qualified nurses as a way of promoting a steady influx of talent.

Many of the success stories coming out of the villages have arisen as a result of college and university work placements and apprenticeships, with several students later going on to pursue a full-time career with Belong.

Most recently, the Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group (NSCG) awarded Belong Newcastle-under-Lyme the ‘Best Large Employer’ accolade for providing excellent opportunities for new staff and students to develop their skills, through a range of health and social care programmes.

Work placements and apprenticeships offer the opportunity to acquire real, hands-on experience, such as handling peg feeds and medications, as well as assisting multidisciplinary teams. At Belong, students are also encouraged to work on the 24-hour support households, to deepen their understanding of customer-focused care around the clock.

Case in point

[L-R] Belong Wigan support manager, Lana Welsh, Gordon Hughes and nurse, Lisa Wynne
Adult nursing graduate, Lisa Wynne, undertook an eight-week work placement at Belong Wigan, during the first year of her BSc honours degree at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) in 2017. Under the guidance of her mentor and Belong support manager, Lana Welsh, Lisa gained first-hand knowledge of working in adult social care and a thorough understanding of nursing best practice. She also developed a strong bond with the rest of the team, which provided her with an insight into the teamwork required to work effectively in a social care setting.

As a result of this success, Belong maintained a relationship with Lisa throughout the duration of her degree, and upon graduating with an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1), she was invited to return to the village to take on a permanent, full-time nursing position.

Commenting on her appointment, Lisa said: “Social care has long been my passion and I’m thrilled to be living this out at Belong Wigan. My work placement was invaluable, providing me with the skills and experience required to start my career. I was also able to build meaningful relationships with both my team and customers throughout the programme, which stood me in good stead when returning to a permanent position. I look forward to sharing my experience with the next cohort of students.”

Creative routes to nurse recruitment are proving to be the way forward in the face of rising demand in the social care sector. Belong has found student placements and apprenticeships to be particularly effective tools for attracting talent, as they provide a unique insight into the meaningful and rewarding nature of a nursing career.

[L-R] Belong Wigan support manager, Lana Welsh, and nurse, Lisa Wynne
Building links with community organisations and educational establishments is the crucial foundation on which these approaches can be developed and will generate interest in the long run. As demonstrated by Lisa’s story, finding and retaining nurses is possible, it just requires the right approach.

Edel Harris





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