We held an event to mark a year since we became one of the first trusts to pilot a nursing associate programme.
Among those reflecting on their achievements was 35-year-old mum of two Alina Stevens (pictured above), who put her career aspirations to become an Admiral Nurse, caring for those with dementia, on hold when she fell pregnant before starting university.
This time last year we introduced our first group of trainee nursing associates, with a second, taking our total up to around 50, starting in April 2017.
Nursing associate is a new role, created by the Government in 2015, which aims to transform the nursing workforce. Associates will work alongside registered nurses and care assistants to deliver hands on care to patients.
Our group of nursing associates has spent the year learning new skills across a range of settings – as well as rotating within departments at our hospitals; they’ve also had the opportunity to work with our partner, the North East London Foundation Trust, learning more about mental health and community nursing.
This week’s event (held on Tuesday 30 January), was an opportunity for them to come together and reflect on and share their achievements and what they’ve learned. They are now half-way through their two-year training, which they’re due to complete in 2019.
Guests heard how our trainee nursing associate Deanna Angus had already put what she’d learnt into action to help a patient. She was able to identify the signs of a stroke, ensuring they could be sent for specialist care immediately.
Speakers at the event, held at Queen’s Hospital, included Samantha Donohue, Nursing Policy Officer for NHS England, Paul Reeves, Head of Nursing, Education and New Roles at NHS Improvement and Karen Crosse, a Fellow at Health Education England.
Also marking the achievements of the nursing associates was our Chief Nurse Kathryn Halford.
Case study – Alina Stevens
Alina, 35, has wanted to help people with dementia since she was just 13. As a punishment for misbehaving in school, she had to spend her summer holidays with her stepmother on the dementia unit where she worked. But far from resenting every minute, it actually showed the teen exactly what she wanted to do.
Alina said: “I really enjoyed it and it’s stayed with me from there. I saw that it wasn’t only medical interventions that could make a difference to them, but that looking after their overall wellbeing and happiness was important too.
“That was all I could do – I played with them and spent time with them and found it really rewarding.”
However, Alina put her dream on hold when she decided not to go to university after falling pregnant. But after two sons, now 14 and 10, and years at work in care homes and community nursing, she’s now a trainee nursing associate with us, with her dreams back on track.
She added: “I was working in the Trust’s dementia team when I found out about the programme and they put me forward for it.
“I’m really enjoying it and learning so much. It can be challenging of course, and it’s a balancing act being mum, working full-time and studying, but everyone is really supportive and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved.”
Alina, of Berkeley Drive, Upminster, aims to complete her nursing associate training in 2019. Her long-term aim is to go to university and complete a Masters, which will allow her to become an Admiral Nurse. She’s even keen to join our Education team to share her skills with others of caring for people with dementia.
Alina was one of the nursing associates who shared their story by speaking at the event.