From unemployment to care work: breaking the cycle

In October we introduced our Training To Care programme. It’s a gateway for people who want a caring career, offering them the qualifications and experience they need in order to apply for NHS jobs.

Being able to earn money and get work experience while you train is – unfortunately – a rare opportunity. Usually, people relying on benefits would not able to gain formal qualifications without losing money.

Three months on, we’ve already put 18 staff into placements, with more due to start next week, and the feedback from placement supervisors has been incredibly positive.

The trainees

In this video, trainees Lynne and Yvonne talk about their backgrounds in care – including Yvonne’s experience caring for family members – and how they’re finding the scheme so far. (Apologies for the sound – we recorded this during a hailstorm so we’ve added some subtitles!)

The principles

The lack of funded opportunities for those who want to get into care work has been reflected in the demand for places on the scheme; we’ve been inundated with CVs and requests for information. This means we’ve had to become really adept at seeing people’s potential when they come to interview.

All of our trainees have some caring experience, even if that experience is informal. We believe that caring for family members, and all the emotional and practical skills that it entails, is just as important as formal training as a background for care work.

The training

Gateway delivers a City and Guilds Diploma in Health and Social Care at Level 2. Trainees also receive training from the NHS that includes things like conflict resolution, manual handling, safeguarding, governance, health and safety and communications.

personal-care-traineesThe training is bespoke, so it offers trainees some extra support – which we find leads to extra confidence. Trainees bond as a team, which gives them more self-reliance – and they take that with them to their placement. Some of the trainees are based at the same units, so they are able to support each other on site, too.

The feedback so far

Clare Gadd is Clinical Team Leader at The Sheldon Unit. She manages two members of Gateway staff at the Unit who undertake palliative care. She says, “We have two members of Gateway staff working as part of the team and, after a period of induction, they have both settled into the routines and expectations of the job well. We have a lot of very dependent patients, and their contribution has been invaluable.

“It makes a real difference to have two more members of the team who were able to join us and get up and running quickly, and of course, it has the added financial benefit of removing the cost burden of using agency staff,” Clare continues. “Considering the members get a year’s support and development working towards achieving a professional qualification, the scheme provides a positive outcome for all involved.”

So far we have had a very good retention rate. Typically, employers report a higher drop-out rate for people who are new to work, or who have been out of work for a long time, but we haven’t found this to be the case in our groups. Turnover in health and social care roles is traditionally very high, so we hope that the extra support and personalised training that we offer will help with retention rates in the NHS going forward.

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