Nursing

A new era for nursing in social care

Donna North, Head of Nursing, Exemplar Health Care

“In the future I would love to become a Registered Nurse and continue providing the highest standards of nursing care to our service users – and the Trainee Nursing Associate apprenticeship will help me to achieve this.”

This positive feedback comes from Jack Cooke, one of Exemplar Health Care’s first Nursing Associates.

In November 2021, we were extremely proud to celebrate seven colleagues who completed the two year programme and graduated as Nursing Associates.

They started the programme, delivered via an apprenticeship route, in 2019. Since then, learners have attended learning days with the University of Sheffield, completed on the job training in their care home and done placements in other health and social care settings.

The Nursing Associate role

Many health care providers continue fishing from the same pond of qualified Nurses. However, the current talent pool doesn’t offer enough Registered Nurses to enable us to continue delivering the highest quality of person-centred care that we aspire to provide for all of our service users, and support the ambitious growth of the company.

The programme enables us to develop existing colleagues, so that we can continue grow our nursing workforce internally.

The Nursing Associate role was introduced by Health Education England almost three years ago.

It was designed to bridge the gap between Healthcare Support Workers and Registered Nurses. Nursing Associates aren’t substitutes for Registered Nurses, but they contribute to the delivery and quality of nursing care, and give Registered Nurses the time to work at the upper limits of their registration.

This builds the capacity of the nursing workforce and provides a progression route into graduate-level nursing for those wanting to continue learning and develop their career.

Overcoming the challenges of the pandemic

Our trainees have had to juggle family life, learning and working though the pandemic.

The pandemic stopped placements for a time, which meant organising alternative opportunities, to ensure that learners met the programme requirements.

They utilised online platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet to attend lectures and meetings.

Our learners have met these challenges head-on and have shown dedication, commitment and resilience throughout difficult times.

Learn and earn as a Trainee Nursing Associate

The programme gives people the opportunity to continue learning and progress in their career, whilst still working and earning a wage. This is what attracts a lot of people to the programme.

“When I heard that Exemplar were offering an opportunity to boost my skills in care, I jumped at the chance,” said Gemma Walker, a recent graduate.

“I’ve got a mortgage and a family to support. I’d never be able to train as a qualified Nurse by taking three years out of work to be at uni. So, training as a Nursing Associate while staying in my role means I can learn and earn – which is key for me.”

A route into nursing

The Nursing Associate role is a great route into nursing for those who are interested in progressing their career.

Jack Cooke, one of the recent graduates, shares: “When I started my career with Exemplar Health Care, I had great career ambitions. After 18 months of working as a Support Worker, I applied for the role of Team Leader. And when the company started offering the Trainee Nursing Associate apprenticeship, I knew that I had to apply.

“This is one of the best opportunities that I’ve had to work full time and also study to progress in the area of work that I love doing.

“In the future I would love to become a Registered Nurse and continue providing the highest standards of nursing care to our service users – and the Trainee Nursing Associate apprenticeship will help me to achieve this.”

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