Background A shortage of skilled and experienced registered nurses across the UK means it is becoming more challenging to attract, recruit and retain nurses into specialist areas, including children’s hospices. A shortage of nurses has the potential to impact on the safety, responsiveness and effectiveness of care, including short breaks provision, symptom management and end of life care, in the hospice and community setting.
Aim To attract and retain sufficient nurses to allow the provision of safe, reliable, and sustainable nurse-led children’s hospice care, that allows families choice in their place of care.
Methods We recognised the need to provide staff with ongoing opportunities to develop in their role and career, and the need to invest in workforce training and development. We developed two career pathways: (i) nurse pathway, and (ii) nursing associate (NA) pathway. Our nurse pathway allows nurses to develop in any of three focus pathways, each with a different primary focus: clinical, leadership, education and research. Our NA pathway allows support workers to undertake a trainee NA apprenticeship whilst employed by the hospice and, once qualified and after a period of consolidation, to ‘top up’ to become a registered nurse with the guarantee of a nurse post at the hospice on completion.
Results Both pathways were introduced in 2022. Feedback from staff suggests our workforce is more engaged with and focused on hospice-based career opportunities. Promoting the development pathways during the recruitment process has led to an increase in the number of job applications received. New roles have increased the scope of nurse-led care provided, particularly in the community and for children requiring symptom management.
Conclusions The introduction of development pathways has had a positive impact on staff recruitment, engagement and retention. It has enabled us to demonstrate a commitment to our registrant workforce and to enhance the care we offer to children and their families.
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