Staff training

Upskilling care staff during a pandemic

Maria Mallaband Care Group head of learning and development Alyson Thompson explains how the care provider overcame barriers to continue staff training that was disrupted during the pandemic

Back in 2015, Health Education England’s Shape of Caring (Raising the Bar) review set out over 30 recommendations under eight themes to ensure nurses and care assistants receive consistent high-quality education and training that throughout their career. 1 Following on from the review, the role

of nursing associate was created as a new position working with healthcare support workers and registered nurses to deliver care for patients and the public. Their duties include: performing

and recording clinical observations such as blood pressure, temperature, respirations and pulse; discussing and sharing information with registered nurses on a patients’ condition, behaviour, activity and responses. Other duties include ensuring the

privacy, dignity and safety of individuals is maintained at all times. In addition, qualifying as a nursing

associate is a stepping stone to becoming a registered nurse. Since 2019, Teesside University’s

School of Health and Life Sciences has trained Maria Mallaband Care Group staff to become nursing associates through the Level 5 Nursing Associate FdSc Apprenticeship programme. This programme is rated ‘Outstanding’

by Ofsted, and was a winner of the Nursing Associate Training Programme Provider of the Year award at the Student Nursing Times Awards 2020. It has been incredibly successful and, as a result, has

Teesside’s Darlington campus in both day release and week-long blocks before returning to their jobs - but then, just one day after the second cohort began their training in March 2020, lockdown forced the university to close and we had to adjust our approach to the training. Whereas our care workers had

also enabled Maria Mallaband Care Group to free up registered nurses to focus on more complex clinical care during this challenging period.

Covid forces different approach Trainee nursing associates (TNAs) on the programme had been attending

Just one day after the second cohort began their training in March 2020, lockdown forced the university to close and we had to adjust our approach to the training

June 2021 •

been going into the university and then going into work for shifts or returning to placements, it was clear that could not continue. We had to prioritise the most important people, our residents and staff in over 80 care homes. Teesside University quickly made the

move from classroom-based learning to online and was brilliant in response. The block weeks were moved online, and the shift worked really well, but of course some practical sessions could not be replicated as staff were unable to access the university’s clinical skills lab, which enables safe clinical simulation. So, we worked with our Covid team -

supported by Teesside University - and arranged for practical training to be done by a single provider in our care homes. For example, having learned about injection


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