Unique nursing apprentice programme

As students prepare to return to their studies in September, Kelly Haddock, trainee nurse associate at Belong Atherton, urges more young people to consider less conventional routes into a nursing career.

Kelly is at the half-way point of her unique pathway into nursing: an apprentice foundation degree programme offered by Belong in conjunction with the University of Salford and affording practical nursing experience outside of hospital settings. 

Reflecting on her first year, Kelly said: ‘There are an increasing number of new training options being created for people, who like me, discover their nursing vocation later on in their career.

‘I’ve been able to build on my experience as a support worker and, once the foundation degree is complete, I’ll be able to work towards a becoming a registered nurse.’

As a Trainee Nursing Associate (TNA), Kelly works in the dementia care specialist’s nursing team, supporting the needs of Belong residents, whilst receiving extensive training and gaining the clinical knowledge and experience required for nursing associate status.

Whereas on the traditional routes into the nursing profession, trainees often gain their practical experience in hospital settings, the programme gives students the opportunity to work in all fields of nursing: adult, mental health, children’s, and learning disability, meaning it is designed to be tailored to any area of the profession.

By working in adult social care at Belong, Kelly is provided the chance to look after older people, including those living with dementia, as part of her training.

Kelly, 33, from Leigh, began her care career over a decade ago, initially working in the catering team at the Mealhouse Lane care village, before being inspired to train as a carer, climbing the ranks to lead senior support worker, heading-up a night team of 24 colleagues.

Notably, her supportive nature shone throne through when she was named ‘Mentor of the Year’ at Belong’s Champion Awards 2020, which recognise colleagues who have made an exceptional contribution to village life.

The apprenticeship role is relatively new to social and primary care and is currently being piloted in care settings with nursing provision, as well as GP surgeries.

Led by University of Salford and regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the training posts are offered at Belong Atherton and Belong Wigan, which were selected to administer the work-based assessment based on an extensive relationship with the university, their track record in developing nurses, as well as top credentials including ‘Outstanding’ CQC ratings and the ‘Gold’ Investors in People accreditation.

Kelly Haddock says: ‘I’m so happy and very thankful that Belong is championing this new Trainee Nursing Associate role; it’s the best of both worlds, studying alongside working at the village.

‘I previously studied at university but had no idea what my long-term career would look like and Belong has provided me with a career for life.’

Rebecca Woodcock, general manager at Belong Atherton, added: ‘We’re thrilled to be working with the University of Salford and pilot this special programme which opens up an exciting new option for nurses.

‘Part of our ethos is to develop careers of aspiring carers and nurses and so we provide numerous opportunities – even entry level options for those without experience in care. 

‘For example, we already have nurses who, like Kelly, started out as support workers, as well as colleagues who are with us on short-term placements. Kelly is another example of someone who has built her skill set and is now extending this into nursing, building on her career caring for others.’

Photo Credit – Belong


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