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When nursing support workers (NSWs) get the development they need, this can lead to improvements to patient care and personal job satisfaction, which benefits the whole nursing team.

I developed a two-level workplace programme, designed for NSWs in my trust. It’s part of the national health care support worker programme run by NHS England / Improvement.

It’s there to develop staff within their role but also inspire them to pursue a career as a registered professional if they wish to do so. I hope it will help NSWs recognise the enormous impact they make.

I hope it will help NSWs recognise the enormous impact they make

We focus on developing an individual’s knowledge and understanding of what they’re being asked to do. With the right support and development a lot of NSWs can do more, but are often only given the opportunity to learn from observing others.

While this is important, it can be problematic if individuals aren’t given an explanation of why something’s being done, or if bad habits have crept in.

Long-term planning 

Sometimes I need to spend time speaking to managers to encourage them to release NSWs for the programme.

I understand that taking valued members of the team away from short-staffed wards for study days is a big ask, but I encourage them to look at the longer-term benefits and how this could help future workforce planning.

Not only will this mean having an upskilled and more confident team, but as a trust we will attract and retain excellent staff who want to benefit from the training we provide.

When we’re short-staffed it’s easy to pause staff development which ultimately has an impact on retention and could still leave us without our full team.

I know these new opportunities have helped the NSWs I work with because I can see their confidence has grown. They’re also given introductions to contacts and experiences to help them on their career development path.

Speak out if you’re not getting the development you need and deserve

Speak out if you’re not getting the learning and development you need and deserve. Talk to your line managers, your practice development leads and your RCN learning reps. All nursing staff deserve the chance to develop and grow.

You’re talented, caring and skilled individuals who need to be aware of the range of opportunities there are in health care.

Louise Simons is a practice development nurse at Whittington Health NHS Trust

Read more

Explore potential career paths and development opportunities for nursing support workers in our handy online guide: Careers Resource for Nursing Support Workforce.

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