Nurses go ‘back to school’

Three staff members from The Royal Star & Garter Homes in Surbiton have become the first from the charity to begin their trainee nursing associate course.

Health care assistants (HCAs) Leena Ghale, Karen Jakeman and Fiona Mirembe started the two-year course this month.

The charity is one of only a handful of care homes to successfully put staff forward for the course and the three believe they are the only students in their class of around 70 not to come from a hospital or trust.

The Royal Star & Garter Homes has played a critical part in the roll-out of the pioneering course, commissioned by Health Education England (HEE) to bridge the gap between healthcare assistants and nurses by providing placements to nursing associate trainees since the pilot began in 2017.

During their studies, Leena, Fiona and Karen will continue working at the home in Surbiton while also attending St George’s, University of London, one day a week and going on three four week placements in other care settings.

The charity is meeting the costs of covering their roles during the course as both an investment in its staff and recognition of their dedication and hard work.

After successfully completing their course, the trio will be able to take on some responsibilities which currently lie with nurses, allowing the team to work more efficiently. As qualified nursing associates they will be able to take blood samples, administer oral medications and assist nurses with residents’ care plans.

Lead HCA Karen works in specialist dementia care and has been with the charity for two years. She says: “This is a massive step in my career development and I feel so proud. We give so much of ourselves emotionally and physically, so it’s nice when that hard work is recognised. I cried when I found out I was on the course, I felt like a valued member of the team.”

Leena, who has worked with the charity for nearly four years and is also lead HCA in specialist dementia care, says: “The fact that we’ve been chosen motivates us to work even harder and to succeed.”

Karen is looking forward to picking up new skills and ideas on her placements. She says: “I’m sure I’ll see some really good practices which I’ll be able to bring back to the charity, things that are small and simple that can be easily implemented and can make a big difference.”

Fiona was a qualified nurse in South Africa and is looking forward to gaining credentials in this country. She says: “It means everything to be on this course. When this opportunity turned up, I knew I had to give it my best try and thank God I made it. The charity has been very supportive and deserves a big thank-you. I’m looking forward to sharing what I learn with everyone here in Surbiton.”

Pauline Shaw, director of care at The Royal Star & Garter Homes, says: “The charity has been fully involved and supportive of this national initiative from the very beginning. We are immensely proud to put forward our staff as trainee nursing associates – very few care homes have been able to do this and it acknowledges the excellent service we offer to residents. What our staff will learn during the two-year course will benefit them, the team they work in and help us continue to provide award-winning care.”

The next cohort from The Royal Star & Garter Homes will begin their trainee nursing associate course in September.


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