Tag: recruitment

Training To Care: saving the NHS money with local employment

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’ stories

Trainees Roza, Charlotte and Judith are working at Moseley Hall Hospital, a specialist stroke and brain injury rehabilitation centre.

Roza

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

Roza, Charlotte and Judith
Trainees (L-R: Roza, Charlotte and Judith)
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

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.”

Supporting people to work means supporting people to better health

We know that, employment is linked to good health. Statistically, if you’re employed, you’re likely to be more healthy.

In 2006, DWP commissioned a scientific evidence review of the links between health, work and wellbeing – Is work good for your health and well-being? An independent review (pdf). It concluded that:

…Work is generally good for physical and mental health and well-being. Worklessness is associated with poorer physical and mental health and well-being. Work can be therapeutic and can reverse the adverse health effects of unemployment.

Gateway was originally set up to help people into formal training or employment – and so to better health. This pre-employment training provides a “gateway” into employment – it’s what gave our organisation its name.

These days, our Employment Access, Skills and Training (EAST) department continues to work in the areas of unemployment, and supporting people to better health is still at the heart of everything we do.

What does EAST do?

EAST works with communities to enable people to work. We do this by offering work experience and paid employment, alongside vital support and training, to people who may not otherwise be able to access it. For example, in February we wrote about our Training To Care course, which offers funded opportunities for those who want to get into care work.

Going from being out of work to being in work is a big lifestyle change. It’s not easy to go from being unemployed for months, sometimes years, and straight into a job. So we support people to manage this change.

Many of the people we work with have some really useful and potentially transferable life experiences, but come up against barriers to work. They may not have everything an employer is looking for: the right qualifications, a certain amount of work experience, or employer references. Some may not have finished education; some have low literacy levels; some might have a police record. A lot of the people we see – especially younger people – have just never really learnt how to work, or developed a “work ethic”, yet.

So we support people to overcome these barriers. We help them to demonstrate their skills and experience, and to gain the work experience, qualifications, references and good work practices that they need to become employed – and therefore healthier.

We do this via our own programmes and working with other organisations. For example, Pop Up Talent offers young people new ways to look at work – to help them unearth hidden talents and to see potential employment in a broader, more positive way.

The “Skills Escalator”

The EAST department covers four main areas: Volunteering, Traineeships, Apprenticeships and Paraprofessionals. These provide a training and employment pathway – also known to us as the “skills escalator”.
Skills-Escalator

This allows people to enter at any stage of the pathway, and receive training and support to move up – as Farzana did when she trained with us before becoming a paraprofessional Pregnancy Outreach Worker, then moved on to begin a degree course in Nursing.

Put very simply, we see people in communities who have a wealth of life experience … and we see employers – particularly in the health sector – with needs. So we work to put these together. People think that to work in health and social care you have to be a doctor or a nurse, and that you need to be “a professional”. This isn’t true. Actually, we can’t think of a job that isn’t available in the health sector – from hairdresser to helicopter pilot!

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.