Our Training To Care programme, which we launched in October in partnership with Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust, is continuing to provide benefits for everyone involved.
The aim of the course is to offer people the qualifications and experience they need in order to apply for NHS jobs – and to offer employers a pool of cost-effective, skilled, reliable staff.
Trainees are happy
The benefits to trainees are pretty straightforward. They’re offered the chance to get work experience in a caring role and train for a Level 2 City & Guilds Diploma in Health and Social Care, together with bespoke NHS training. Importantly, though, they earn a wage for the duration of the course. Gaining qualifications usually means a financial cost to the trainee, so this – unfortunately for the thousands of unqualified, unemployed people who would love a career in care – is a rare opportunity.
Around two thirds of our trainees were previously unemployed; some of them long term. Some had come from our volunteer programmes, working their way up the Skills Escalator. Most had some previous caring experience, but it wasn’t in a paid capacity, so it often didn’t count when it came to job applications and formal interviews. We counted it.
We believe that this combination of work experience, qualifications and payment gives the trainees everything they need to move forward and get a career in healthcare.
But there are many vital benefits to Birmingham Community Healthcare, and wider employers, as well.
Employers are happy too
Our aim is to provide healthcare employers with a valuable resource of reliable, enthusiastic, hard working and, ultimately, qualified staff who will save them money.
The pre-employment training that Gateway and the Healthcare trust offers is specially tailored to the roles offered – so this, in addition to the previous experience of caring for family that many trainees have, enables them to hit the ground running when they arrive on site. Several supervisors of the bedded units who have offered placements to Gateway trainees have mentioned that the ability to “mould” trainees into a role has been useful.
Clare Gadd, Clinical Team Leader at The Sheldon Unit, says “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.”
Gateway’s specialist support also helps to give a smooth transition for the long-term unemployed people who are returning to work. This extra support and employability training means that the retention rate – in an industry that has a traditionally high turnover – is much better (80% in this programme to date). The process also means that employers have additional administrative help, as Gateway managers are on hand to provide extra support to trainees during their placement.
Trainees Roza, Charlotte and Judith are working at Moseley Hall Hospital, a specialist stroke and brain injury rehabilitation centre.
Roza had been working in hospitality and came to Gateway some time ago to work as an interpreter before applying for the Training To Care programme. Although she didn’t have formal care experience, she has cared for her sister, who has Down’s Syndrome.
Roza says: “I was very happy with the support and training that Gateway offered me as an interpreter, so when I saw the opportunity to move into care work with the same level of support, I jumped at the chance.
“The work is very rewarding. It’s nice when you go onto the ward and people are pleased to see you. Watching people recover and helping them learn to walk again is really satisfying. Every day I feel better and get more confident about work.”
Charlotte had done a few different jobs – in hotels, bars, shops and warehouses – but always wanted a career in care. Her mum is ill so she has some informal experience, but it never seemed to be enough to get a foot in the door. She said, “I’d been trying for years to get into care work, but you can’t just walk into it. Even if an advert says ‘no experience required’, you’ll lose out if someone with any experience at all applies. Some jobs even require payment up front for checks before you can start. It’s not easy.
“In the past I’ve done lots of jobs but working in a caring role like this just feels really natural to me. The supervisors give me lots of praise, which is really encouraging. I’m getting loads of experience and learning something new every day.”
Charlotte’s supervisor, Annmarie Rumble, says: “Charlotte was quite quiet at the start but it feels like she’s really blossomed. She’s grown in confidence and is now able to work under her own steam. She’s really good with the patients; she has a caring and calm nature which is just what they need. She’s particularly good at calming them if they get upset.
“Sometimes when younger people come to us to start work they can be a bit unprepared for the sorts of tasks they may have to do. Charlotte was prepared prior to starting placement and adapted very quickly to what she was expected to do. She is a highly valued member of the team.”
Judith started with Gateway as a volunteer befriender. “I like to help people, which is why I was a befriender, and later an interpreter, with Gateway. I really enjoy this work. I’m not always comfortable with new people but here we see new people every day, so it’s given me a lot more confidence. As trainees, we are paired with a nurse, but I’m finding that I can do more and more on my own.
“It’s not so much the medical side of the job that appeals to me; it’s everything around it. My mum and dad passed away in hospital and I wasn’t able to be with them, so I see this as paying something back. If I can be there for someone who doesn’t have anyone and who’d otherwise be isolated – if I can have a chat with them, and cheer them up – then I know that I have done a good job.”