University partnership with care provider sees workers join Nursing apprenticeship scheme

The University of Wolverhampton is working with Cygnet Health Care to create a new generation of highly skilled future nurses.

Cygnet Health Care, a leading independent provider of specialist mental health care services, is one of the first providers to introduce Nursing Associate Foundation Apprenticeships into the independent sector as a way of addressing the national shortage of registered nurses.

Twenty one Cygnet employees who work for the organisation as support workers are studying to become nursing associates through the new Nursing Associate Foundation Degree Apprenticeship, which was launched by the Faculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing at the University’s Walsall Campus in March.

The role of a nursing associate aims to bridge the gap between healthcare support workers and registered nurses, enabling nurses to spend more time on clinical duties and take more of a lead in decisions about patient care. Nursing associates are an important part of Cygnet’s strategy to simultaneously provide greater career development opportunities for their support workers, while also further improving the support they provide for the individuals in their care.

Upon completion of the two-year Nursing Associate course, the programme participants will continue to study and work for a further two years to become registered nurses.

The Cygnet programme follows a successful trial run by Health Education England in the NHS, where pilot schemes have resulted in a commitment to train a further 12,500 Nurse Associates over the next two years.

Mandy Blanchard, Head of Learning & Development at Cygnet, said: “The bespoke programme takes the form of an apprenticeship, where the participants work in our hospitals, for a minimum of 30 hours a week and spend one day a week studying and being supported by lecturers from the University of Wolverhampton.

“We’re so excited to be helping some of our most dedicated and motivated support workers in their own career development as well as providing the individuals in our care with a fantastic team of highly-trained and passionate professionals. We are pleased to be helping to address the national nurse shortage and hope that this will be the first of many groups to go through the programme.”

Michele Roberts, Head of the University’s Apprenticeship Hub, added: “The Nursing Associate Apprenticeship programme has benefited from the pilot programme the University operated with a number of partner organisations last year.  We have worked extensively with employers in building a programme that meets their requirements, NMC requirements as well as ensuring the appropriate support mechanisms are in place for our Apprentices along the way.

“This is the start of a growing portfolio in Health for Apprenticeships and it’s our intention to build on the good employer engagement we have to establish further pathways of studying for the care industry.”

The University also has plans to introduce Social Work, Nursing and Paramedic Degree Apprenticeships.

For more information call: 01902 321000.