The Nursing Associate (NA) role was introduced in response to the Shape of Caring Review (2015), and aims to support the career progression of healthcare assistants, enable nurses to focus on more complex clinical work and increase the supply of nurses (Health Education England. Nursing associates. [Internet]). The NA role aims to bridge the gap between health and care assistants and registered nurse whilst providing a progression route into graduate level nursing (Nursing & Midwifery Council. We regulate nursing associates. [Internet]).
The hospice has recently supported two individuals to complete their trainee nursing associate apprenticeship. The staff members have recently registered with the NMC and have begun working in their new roles. The organisation and the staff have learnt a great deal throughout the apprenticeship that has informed future workforce development. The NAs themselves, whilst enjoying the trainee nurse associate programme, did find it challenging at times, especially when balancing work, life and study. Their placements allowed them to gain a greater awareness and understanding of healthcare outside of the hospice environment which they enjoyed. The organisation has found the roles to be invaluable in diversifying the workforce within the hospice and support the ‘grow your own’ model. One of the challenges was organising placements outside of the organisation and developing these links. Trainee exchanges proved to be an effective route for mitigating this challenge.
In conclusion, the NA posts have been a positive introduction for patients, the services and the staff members themselves. The last two years has provided us with the opportunity to develop links with other providers and exchange trainee nursing associates on placement, which has further increased our reach as a hospice. There is also now the opportunity for NAs to complete an apprenticeship route to registered nurse, which will help with the retention of experienced and valued members of the hospice team.
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