East London NHS Foundation Trust has been shortlisted in the workforce category at HSJ Awards for its ‘Band 6 Apprentice Programme’, which develops junior nursing staff to prepare them to step-up to more senior roles. We spoke to Janet Flaherty, Head of Communications and PR at the Trust, to find out more.
What is the ‘Band 6 Apprentice Programme’?
This is a 24 day training programme which focuses on the skills required to become a Band 6 Nurse and helps to develop awareness of self and the impact you have on both patients and staff. It also explores thoughts, feelings behaviours and the emotional impact of both the clinical and management components of the post. This is supported by action learning sets, recovery/reflection, individual coaching and a number of assessments, structured project work, the opportunity to shadow senior managers and a 2 week placement of their choice. Band 5 Staff Nurses were invited to apply for this programme, where there were over a 100 applicants and only 22 places, and went through an assessment day and a formal interview to secure a place. On successful completion of the course they will become an apprentice Band 6 and we will support them to secure a substantive post within the organisation. Out of the current 22 staff currently on the programme 16 have already secured a substantive Band 6 position.
Why did your Trust decide to implement this programme?
The Band 6 post can often feel the most challenging; the transition from Staff Nurse to Clinical Practice Lead is something many staff describe as daunting and feel their nurse training does not prepare or equip them for a post which expects them to provide clinical expertise and manage staff. We wanted to support, enable and most of all ensure that staff are allowed time and the opportunity to receive training, which really focuses on every aspect of the role; training which connects, resonates and allows them to think creatively and training which helps them to have critical conversations and support those they are working with.
This programme is also about succession planning about making sure we have staff that are able and ready to take on more responsibility as historically these posts have been difficult to fill. We also wanted to provide a career pathway for Band 5 Nurses supported by quality, innovative training.
What were the main aims of this apprentice programme?
To support, develop and equip our talented Band 5 Nurses to become Band 6 Nurses. To acknowledge the challenges of the role and to provide training before they become a Band 6 so they feel confident, competent and ready to do the job. This is very much about developing future leaders, investing in staff, nurturing potential and support in action
What benefits have you seen?
The first apprentice programme is just finishing and already the majority of them have been successful in getting Band 6 posts. They feel confident; they are thoughtful, considered, and able to think creatively about improving the patient experience. Senior managers describe Band 6 apprentices as people who can hit the ground running, who are not scared to challenge tradition, are comfortable having difficult conversations and are committed to improving the quality of the service we provide. The Band 6 apprentices feel this course has been incredibly beneficial to them as practioners and people. The learning and the support they have from both the group and their mentors has made them feel both valued and invested in, they feel part of the organisation and we believe it will help with retaining talent
What made you apply to the Workforce category?
This project feels like it has really made a difference to the quality of care, and just looking at all the options, we felt it was right for the Workforce category. We took a group of staff, focused on their needs, and made the decision to invest in them. Often when we train people we provide them with core training but there isn’t anything to help them progress. This programme felt like a bit more of an investment and would really pay off for both the nurses and the organisation.
What are the Trust’s aims for the future of this programme?
We want to broaden it and make it available to more people. We’re an expanding organisation and have community services now as well as mental health services; we’re just taking on the management of a service in Barnet and provide services in Richmond. As we are taking on services, the training will need to be modified to encompass all of those, and help people get a foot up the ladder to develop and grow in our organisation. We want to grow great professionals.
Congratulations on being shortlisted and good luck at the Awards Ceremony.