23 October 2020

Care workers were this week enrolled as Apprentice Nursing Associates (ANAs) for the first time at the University of East London, a new role that bridges the gap between care workers and registered nurses.

The four care workers were employed by care providers who do not employ a Registered Nurse but have accessed the apprenticeship through a unique system partnership.

Robert Waterson, programme lead for the ANA course at the University of East London, said, "We are fully committed to supporting this role for the wider workforce and see the importance of facilitating this role in social care. Dr Vicki Leah is a core member of the team supporting this innovation using her extensive knowledge and background as a consultant nurse in social care."

The Nursing Associate role was introduced in 2016 as a highly trained support role within nursing, providing a bridge between unregulated Healthcare Assistants (HCA) and Registered Nurses. Nursing Associates are regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and work under the direction of Registered Nurses to deliver care based on agreed plans.

Care City, an innovation centre for healthy ageing and regeneration, is leading on this pilot. With grant funding from Skills for Care through the Workforce Development Innovation Fund and East London Health and Care Partnership, the pilot is supported by the University of East London, North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT), Barking, and Havering & Redbridge Community Education Provider Networks (BHR CEPN).

The pilot is focused on a system challenge; as care homes and domiciliary care providers support people who are sicker and more complex, they need greater clinical skills. Care homes would benefit hugely from developing Apprentice Nursing Associates within their teams, but they do not have a Registered Nurse to fulfil the essential supervision and assessment functions required for the programme. This 'ANA Catch-22' is a barrier to innovation, and to the ambitions of many care workers across the country.

Together with the University of East London, BHR CEPN and NELFT, Care City is working to solve this problem. The first four carers to enrol will receive a new model of 'arms-length' supervision from Lauren Thorpe, a nurse at NELFT.

With Ms Thorpe's support, over time they will build collaborative networks of supervision, learning from the GPs, District Nurses and other clinicians who support their service users.

The long-term aim is to remodel the Residential Home and Domiciliary Care Agency workforce to include the qualified Nursing Associate role, continuing to use this 'arms-length' supervision model.

The apprenticeship will create a pathway into nursing for care staff, helping talented East London care workers enhance both the support they provide to service users and their own careers.

Care Workers from Romford-based care homes Kallar Lodge Residential and Ebury Court, and the domiciliary care provider Lodge Group Care, are the first to participate in the pilot.

Benefits of having a registered Nursing Associate on the team include:

  • increasing the capacity to deal with the increasing clinical needs of residents/clients.
  • helping to reduce emergency admissions to hospital.
  • providing a cost-effective clinical team.
  • Promoting career progression from care staff towards nursing, as well as supporting staff retention and attracting good quality staff.

Gisele Bolozi, a carer with Lodge Group Carer, said, "I am so excited to start the Apprentice Nursing Associate programme, as I feel this is the next step for me in my career, and with having a young son I felt that I wouldn't be able to go to university. However, the ANA programme has given me the opportunity to progress into a role I have always aspired to do."

Related topics