Hospice care ‘Enriched’ by Apprenticeships

Two local hospice employees say they can now further ‘enrich the patient care experience’ after completing a complex nursing apprenticeship scheme.

As part of Apprenticeship Week (8th-14th February 2021), Havens Hospices is highlighting the opportunities available to employees of the charity, and that apprenticeships are not just for those at the start of their career.

Maisie Tully and Sarah Franklin have recently passed an ‘Assistant Practitioner in Nursing’ foundation degree course, led by Anglia Ruskin University.

Lasting 20 months, the pair attended day release study sessions in Chelmsford, but learning moved completely online once the Covid pandemic took hold. In order to gain the vast knowledge needed, they had to study for a minimum of 10 hours a week in their own time (increasing to 15 hours during lockdown) plus attending tutorials and completing both written and practical assignments.  A graduation ceremony is tentatively planned for summer 2021.

The range of subjects studied as part of the degree spans anatomy and physiology, fundamental knowledge, values and clinical skills for health.  The degree encompassed understanding of ethical and legal issues and the importance of evidence based practice.  They had to have an understanding of current national policies including the NHS Long Term Plan, NHS Constitution, NICE guidelines and the Nursing and Midwifery Code of Practice.

28 year old Maisie, who works as a Healthcare Assistant for The J’s, says, “I agreed to undertake this course to progress and potentially move onto my nursing degree. With this training, I can now go out and assess patients and create pain management and Care Plans for young people at home.”

Sarah has worked for the organisation since 2003, making the move from fundraising to Fair Havens in 2012. The 58 year old is now an Assistant Practitioner. “I wanted to better my level of knowledge so I could be more useful on the unit, and understand what I was observing. As a Nursing Assistant, you observe and report. With Assistant Practitioner training, you can pull together your own Care Plans, help with admissions and undertake more clinical tasks.”

The aim is for Maisie and Sarah to work as part of the Havens Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) and give a rationale for a plan of care, creating more autonomy and responsibility and helping to alleviate pressure on the nurses, either within the hospice or in the community.

Maisie says, “I can now be a point of contact for the other HCA’s on the team and share best practice and knowledge. This is key in the community as a lot of the time, we’re working alone. We’re also educating families too as they’re caring for their child by themselves.”

Juggling work and studies is never easy, especially so during the pandemic. Maisie was relocated from The J’s to Fair Havens In Patient Unit where she worked for six months. She says, “If Sarah and I were not at work, we were on a computer researching and studying. It was stressful and difficult, especially during the midst of the pandemic and under deadline. But looking back we really enjoyed it. Sarah and I supported each other and those in our class, keeping each other motivated. We definitely know how to stick to deadlines now!”

Sarah continues, “We’re lucky that our organisation has given us this opportunity, and we know others have followed in our footsteps and doing government funded apprenticeships in all areas of the charity. Hopefully it will help with recruitment so now people who join us know there is career progression and support in place. Ultimately, we have learnt the skills and we can now step in and enrich our patients’ experience because the patient and their family are always our main focus.”

Havens Hospices currently has bank nursing opportunities available for both the hospice and its community teams. To find out more, visit www.havenshospices.org.uk/careers

Published 5th February 2021

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Sarah and Maisie, who recent passed nursing apprenticeships