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Care home provider Colten Care has announced that it has added six trainees to its nursing associate programme, which it says represents the “latest chapter in its investment in nursing”.
Six of its existing healthcare assistants and senior carers are set to begin their first work placements on the national nursing associate training programme, said the provider today.
“I am looking forward to meeting other nursing professionals and gaining more experience on the course”
They will join eight colleagues who formed Colten Care’s initial cohort of nursing associate trainees last year, in partnership with the course provider Solent University in Southampton.
One of the new trainees, Nikolina Boncheva, has been working as an HCA at Woodpeckers in Brockenhurst, Hampshire, for 10 years, and thanked the firm for its support.
She said: “I am ready to move forward in my life. Ultimately, I have ambitions to progress and qualify as a general nurse.
“In the meantime, I am looking forward to meeting other nursing professionals and gaining more experience on the course.”
The rest of the cohort comprises HCA Kayleigh Guppy and senior care leads Stoyanka Ruzheva, Pratik Gaikwad, Kelly Wills and Agnieszka Ciok.
Colten Care operations director Elaine Farrer said: “The nursing associate role helps us in two main ways.
“As well as creating a career pathway for trainees who have typically been healthcare assistants or care leads, it means we can free up our registered nurses to focus on more complex clinical duties, knowing they have the support of professionals who are independently recognised in their own right.”
The provider noted that, because of the Covid-19 restrictions, this year’s training programme would begin with virtual learning.
The first placements are due to start at Colten Care homes in July 2020, lasting eight weeks. Other placements over the course will include acute hospital wards in the NHS.
“As well as creating a career pathway for trainees who have typically been HCAs or care leads, it means we can free up our registered nurses”
Colten Care employs more than 250 nurses across its 21 homes in Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and Sussex.
In line with NMC guidance, Colten Care said it involved one of its residents, John Arbor, a former policeman with training and career development experience, in the 2020 selection process.
Nurse learning and development manager, Sally Smith, said: “It was a long but productive day, blessed with some great candidates.
“John’s contribution provided first-hand insight from a resident’s perspective. He helped the candidates to stay focused on what our overall goal is: namely, the wellbeing of our residents.”
The nursing associate role was designed to help bridge the gap between health and care assistants and registered nurses.
It involves two years of study and work placements ahead of formal registration as a nursing associate with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. The role has its own part of the NMC register.
However, critics have warned that it will lead to the dilution of skills, with registered nurse posts substituted for nursing associates.
Others have criticised the apparent assumption that many nursing associates will go on to train as registered nurses, rather than celebrating the potential value of the new role itself.
In 2017, 2,000 student nursing associates started pilot programmes at 35 test sites across England. The first nursing associates joined the register when it opened to them on 28 January 2019.