Nursing Opinion

Nursing Associates: supporting the future of the social care nursing workforce  

Claire Fretwell, Head of Learning and Development, Exemplar

To meet the growing demand for Nurses in social care, Exemplar Health Care introduced the Trainee Nursing Associate (TNA) apprenticeship to its learning and development programme in 2019. There are currently 28 TNAs in training, of which 8 are due to complete at the end of October and will move into the role of Nursing Associate, supporting the company to deliver dignified, person-centred and compassionate care.

The Nursing Associate role was introduced by Health Education England in 2019 to provide the nursing workforce with a skillset that bridges the gap between Health Care Assistants and Registered Nurses, and help build the capacity of the nursing workforce, providing a progression route into graduate-level nursing for those wanting to continue learning and develop their career.

About the TNA programme

The TNA programme is two years long, and is delivered via an apprenticeship route, which means that learners continue working whilst being paid.

The programme involves one or two days at a local university each week, alongside learning ‘on the job’ in an Exemplar Health Care home and completing placements in other health and social care settings.

“Training as a Nursing Associate while staying in my role means that I can learn and earn”

Gemma Walker, Trainee Nursing Associate at our Dearnevale care home in Barnsley, has found that the programme is a great way to learn whilst fitting in with her current commitments outside of work.

She shared: “When I heard that Exemplar Health Care was offering an opportunity to boost my skills in care, I jumped at the chance. I’ve got a mortgage and a family to support, so I’d never be able to train as a qualified Nurse by taking three years out of work to be at university – so, training as a Nursing Associate while staying in my role means that I can learn and earn – which is key for me.

“It also means that I can progress in a nursing career without compromising on practical work experience, which is a key consideration for many employers in the care sector.”

In the future I would love to become a Registered Nurse”

Jack Cooke, Trainee Nursing Associate at our Neville Court care home in Barnsley, joined Exemplar Health Care for the development opportunities, and enjoys studying whilst gaining valuable work experience on this apprenticeship.

He shared: “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 this role I get the opportunity to work alongside my Supervisor and Registered Nurses to carry out delegated clinical care tasks – which is a great way to gain valuable work experience, alongside my studies at university. There is always something new to learn and the excitement you get feels great.

“In the future I would love to become a Registered Nurse and continue providing the highest standards of nursing care to our service users.”

Nursing careers with Exemplar Health Care

Exemplar Health Care is a leading provider of specialist nursing care for adults living with a range of complex and high acuity needs.

There are lots of opportunities to learn, develop and progress in your career within the company, through our in-house learning programme and external training opportunities.

We’re currently exploring a top-up nursing apprenticeship for Nursing Associates that want to progress further in their career.


Edel Harris





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