Features

How nursing associates aim to add value to older people's care

The nursing associate role has opened up a new career pathway for Claire Stott and Laura Simmons

The nursing associate role has opened up a new career pathway for Claire Stott and Laura Simmons


Claire Stott (centre) with Shyam Agravat Ghansyam and Jaya Agravat. Picture: John Houlihan

Claire Stott has harboured an ambition to become a nurse, but family responsibilities have held her back from completing a nursing degree.

Now though, her dreams of entering the nursing profession are about to come true.

Ms Stott is in the last module of her first year as a trainee nursing associate at the University of Bolton and will qualify in April 2020.

On passing her studies, she can join the new nursing associate section of the Nursing and Midwifery Council register.

£20,150

is the band 4 starting salary for a nursing associate

(Source: NHS Employers)

‘I have always had a passion for nursing and this has been a wonderful opportunity,’ she says.

‘It has opened up a career pathway and that is what I am so thrilled about.

‘I always wanted to be a nurse and never wanted to do anything else,’ Ms Stott explains. ‘I have three relatives who were nurses and this inspired me.

‘But I am in my early forties with a family and a mortgage – I wouldn’t have done a nursing degree now, it was not an option for me to give up everything and train.’

'No-brainer' opportunity

Joining the two-year nursing associate programme at the University of Bolton was an opportunity for Ms Stott to be supported to ‘upskill’ by her employer, Bolton Hospice.

‘Training to be a nursing associate was a no-brainer, as it is fantastic to be able to carry on with my career,’ says Ms Stott.

‘I am still employed by Bolton Hospice and that is where my job will be at the end. I am the trailblazer,’ she adds.

Ms Stott has worked in healthcare since her early twenties – first on a stroke ward and more recently at the hospice as a band 3 clinical support worker.

‘I am loving the new experiences and have learned so much from them, but hospice care is my passion,’ she says.

Ms Stott enjoys working with older people. ‘They are some of the most interesting people you can meet – funny and fabulous with a wealth of knowledge and inspirational stories.’

Life-changing encounter

14,500

nursing associates are planned to be in post by 2021

(Source: Department of Health and Social Care)

Laura Simmons is a trainee nursing associate alongside Ms Stott.

Ms Simmons was working in the community as a therapy assistant for older people who had undergone surgery when she had a life-changing encounter with a patient.

‘I went to see a patient and noticed she was short of breath,’ Ms Simmons says, explaining how alarm bells went off in her head. ‘It was gut instinct.’

‘She said she didn’t feel well and was very tired, so I told her to sit down and I rang one of the nurses who did her clinical observations.

‘Her pulse rate was low and we had to ring for an ambulance.

‘She ended up having a pacemaker fitted – the nurse said: "your judgement there would make you a fabulous nurse, you have just saved a life."’

After spending more time with the nurses on the team, the opportunity arose to do the nursing associate course and Ms Simmons applied.

Like Ms Stott, she enjoys working with older people.

‘Age is just a number,’ Ms Simmons says. ‘With age comes experience and the people I have met have lots of interesting stories.

‘Nursing associates are able to give patients the hands-on bedside care that nurses don’t always have time to give.’

Adding value


Laura Simmons with patient Eric Molyneux. Picture: John Houlihan

Ms Stott agrees and says she is excited about being able to ‘add value’ to the nursing team by working alongside registered nurses, freeing them up to deal with more complex care situations.

‘We can be there by the bedside for patients and monitor them, always with a view to going to a registered nurse with any concerns,' she says. 'Hopefully the patient will have that extra layer of enhanced care from nursing associates – that care is already there, but it is pressured.’

The trainee nursing associates recognise that the new role has met with concerns from some in the profession.

Some see the nursing associate as a threat to the profession’s graduate-entry status, while others consider it a reinvention of the state enrolled nurse, which was phased out in the 1980s.

Acceptance and integration

40%

of nursing associates want to go on and train as nurses

(Source: Health Education England)

Others are concerned to ensure the nursing associates, who will be paid at band 4 (£20,150 to £23,363), are not used as a cheap substitute for nurses.

Ms Stott says that being accepted and integrated into the nursing team will be a challenge at first.

‘There will be teething problems, but our role is in support of registered nurses’, she says.

‘We are not replacing registered nurses, we are adding value to the whole team.

‘It is a nursing family as I see it and we all have the same goal which is to provide excellent patient care.’

The nursing associate role

Nursing associates will work in hospital and community settings, undertaking clinical tasks such as venepuncture, temperature, pulse and blood pressure, and assisting patients with eating and drinking.

The nursing associate role was introduced to help address the skills gap between unregulated healthcare support workers and registered nurses. It is also intended to take pressure off nurses so they can deliver more complex care.

The first cohort of nursing associates qualified at the end of January 2019 after two years of training.

They will join a new nursing associate part of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register, as the organisation now regulates the role. The role will be regulated in England only.

New NMC standards for nursing associates were published in October, with supporting guidelines on protected learning and practice learning experience.

 

Further information

Nursing and Midwifery Council (2019) What is a Nursing Associate?

Read more in our careers series

This article is for subscribers only

Jobs