Background The Willis Commission advocated a career pathway for health care assistants (HCAs) to enhance career opportunities and support the sustainability of the future nursing workforce. Several opportunities have been embraced to enable this including the creation of assistant practitioner (AP) roles, health and social care apprenticeships alongside, underpinning education such as Foundation Degrees, QCF frameworks and the Care Certificate.
Our Experience For the past nine years our Education Department has run a Foundation Degree which several HCAs from the hospice have successfully achieved. More recently, engagement in level 2 and 3 QCF modules has taken place. In addition, there has been a variety of activity to support HCA development in a hospice setting:
Two assistant practitioner posts (in Education & MND Team)
Four trainee assistant practitioners – rotating into the community trust as part of collaborative pilot project
Two clinical apprenticeships (inpatient ward and day therapy rotational posts)
Two HCA development posts, through ‘talent managing’ staff from the domestic team & HCA bank
Three senior HCA posts on the inpatient ward.
The above initiatives have demonstrated the commitment of the organisation to develop our workforce and embed novel roles within the nursing teams in alignment with national directives. The Education AP has developed and embedded the care certificate with new HCAs. One of the clinical apprentices was previously a volunteer and the three senior HCAs have been internally promoted. The HCA development posts were created to enable appropriate staff who lacked traditional essential application criteria, to learn on the job, whilst undertaking supported study to attain vocational qualifications. Both clinical apprentices have successfully attained a substantive post at the end of their training; the success of this means we are seeking to appoint a further two clinical apprentices this year.
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