A senior manager at a south Cumbrian care home network has praised a scheme which has allowed staff to gain vital professional qualifications while working in the care sector.
In 2013 Barbara Redshaw, director of nursing at Risedale at Abbey Meadow in Barrow, formed a partnership with the University of Cumbria to train health care assistants. The aim was to help fill a predicted shortfall in trained staff in the future. Five years on, over 55 assistant care practitioners have taken part in the three year course with more to follow.
“It’s been a phenomenally successful course,” Barbara says. “The apprenticeship levy is the single best thing that has happened in health and social care in 20 years. I had to fund the assistant practitioner course in its entirety prior to the levy. Now, as a levy payer, 0.5% of our payroll goes into the government pot but we get it back if we spend it on apprenticeships.”
With 12 assistant care practitioner apprentices currently being trained by the University of Cumbria, the balance Barbara pays at the moment is a fraction of the cost she paid prior to the scheme being launched.
“Every day I learn something new doing this job and it’s interesting because there’s always something you’ve never seen before,” Jade Short, trainee assistant practitioner, said adding that the balance between work and study is easy to achieve. “The course offers a study week so in the meantime I have chance to put my study into place and if I have questions I can contact my tutor by email.”
Risedale, which employs 600 staff looking after 326 residents, are now planning to work with the University of Cumbria to train registered care practitioners to become Qualified Registered Nurses. The University of Cumbria has recently started delivery of one of the first registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship in the country involving 27 apprentices employed by the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.
“This opportunity is unbelievable and every provider who has health and social care staff should be taking advantage of this,” Barbara said. “Throughout the training our staff develop both professionally and personally. The knock on effect for the local economy is that we are attracting very good healthcare assistants because they are fully aware of the career paths and the progress they can make with us.”
Barbara’s comments come at the start of Apprenticeship Week which aims to highlight the opportunity to employers of taking up training courses offered at a highly cost effective rate.
“We’re delighted to work with Risedale as they have a clear vision of how apprenticeships can develop their workforce to deliver excellent care to their clients,” Peter Train, apprenticeship development manager at the University of Cumbria, said. “This is just one apprenticeship course run by the university. From care to chartered management, healthcare science to project management we’re able to offer apprenticeships at higher and degree level which will enable staff to develop new skills and enhance business performance. We are now working in collaboration with Risedale Care, Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group and Lancaster and Morecambe College to raise awareness of how programmes such as this one can help boost the healthcare workforce in the area and provide a fulfilling career for local people.”
In January the University of Cumbria has successfully secured a contract with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to provide degree and higher level apprenticeships to smaller businesses in Cumbria from January 2018. The award means smaller businesses in Cumbria can now take advantage of the benefits of employing an apprentice as previously only larger, levy-paying businesses had access. 90% of the cost of the programmes will be funded by the ESFA contract with employers only needing to pay 10% of costs. This means that employing an apprentice on a full degree programme would only cost a small business £2,700.