Nurse training scheme a national first for Rainbows

A Leicestershire charity supporting youngsters with life-limiting conditions has become the country’s first children’s hospice to begin training its own nursing associates.

Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People – a specialist care centre for youngsters with short lives across the East Midlands – says the move makes it the only organisation of its kind to begin developing its own highly trained nurses from existing staff.

Three Rainbows Hospice Care Assistants have started their roles as Trainee Nursing Associates (TNAs) – an initiative trialled in England following the Department of Health’s Shape of Care Review in 2015. The review found that the gap nationally between qualified nurses and health care assistants working to provide care provision was widening and, as a result of its recommendations the TNA initiative was launched, supported locally by the University of Derby. 

Rainbows Matron, Helen Cooper, commented: “The TNA scheme is effectively an apprenticeship that leads to a qualification in care and will help us bridge any gaps in the workforce, allowing participants to study while learning on the job. It’s an ideal solution for all concerned.”

And, if after completing their training TNAs then want to become fully qualified nurses they can access a fast-track course of just 18 months!

Rainbows has offered TNA places in conjunction with the university to existing Hospice Care Assistants Hannah Fish, Andy Chandler and Lucy Webb, who have just started their training.

Hannah, said: “I’ve worked at Rainbows for three years and it’s an incredible place. I knew I always wanted to work with children, but working here has made me want to train as a nurse. I just wasn’t sure how that could happen. But it is an amazing opportunity.”

The three TNAs will be supported by Rainbows Practice Development Nurse Leigh-Ann Pike over the next two years who will work in conjunction with their university mentors.

She said: “We believe we are the first children’s hospice UK-wide to embrace the TNA initiative – and we’re all very excited to be able to offer the training to develop our staff in this way, thanks to the fabulous support from the University of Derby. Our Hospice Care Assistants are all fantastic and do amazing jobs every day. Now we can offer them a way to develop their career with us, if they choose to.”