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Apprenticeships: advice and support for hospices through the National Hospice Education Collaborative

Author: Sally Garbett
10 March 2017

This week is National Apprenticeship Week. Sally Garbett, Vocational Programmes Manager at St Christopher’s Hospice and joint lead of the National Hospice Education Collaborative (NHEC) provides clarity on apprenticeships, highlights their benefits and explains how the NHEC can support hospices in navigating the potentially complex apprenticeship and levy landscape.

Apprenticeships are becoming increasingly important for hospice workforce development and are the basis for Health Education England’s Shape of Caring reforms for the health care and nurse workforce.

Apprenticeships are not just for clinical staff; there are Apprenticeship Standards for over 400 occupations to support the development of existing and new staff in a wide variety of roles. The increased hospice interest in apprenticeships is in part due to the introduction of a new tax from April 2017 that many hospices will pay - the Apprenticeship Levy.

Apprenticeships are not new. “Modern Apprenticeships” were developed in the early 1990’s and since then apprenticeships have been through a number of reforms but the core principles remain. Apprenticeships are real jobs with an accompanying skills development programme. There is no cost or debt for the Apprentice, even with Degree Level Apprenticeships. There is no upper age limit, they are open to new or existing staff whether full or part time and enable individuals to retrain for different careers even when they have previously achieved qualifications at higher levels of study than the apprenticeship they wish to pursue.

The current pace and scale of change is exacerbated for hospices by the combined effects of two different sets of reforms; one from the Department of Education (DoE) for Apprenticeships and the other from Health Education England (HEE) for the health care workforce. 

By early 2016 it was clear that hospices were going to need support around these reforms and would benefit from working collaboratively, so St Christopher’s Hospice in London sought  funding from an independent donor and formed the National Hospice Education Collaborative (NHEC) with the initial focus on vocational education and apprenticeships.  

Discussions with hospices resulted in 10 regional leads across England and the formation of the NHEC Steering Group and a memorandum of understanding with Hospice UK. 

The NHEC has 250 individual members from over 110 hospices so far and is there to support you with these reforms. There is a surgery to provide a speedy response to your specific queries, enable you to start discussions with colleagues and to participate in national consultations; a documents section with apprenticeship-related information, reports and briefings; details of training events we are running (which over 160 hospice staff have attended so far) and links to related websites to save you time searching.  

NHEC activities have enabled hospices to influence the content of Health Apprenticeships, contributed to the end of life-related content in future vocational qualifications and participated in Government surveys to inform apprenticeship funding.

There is no limit to membership for your hospice and you may want to encourage your CEO, HR, finance, clinical and education staff to join. Members receive notification of postings and are alerted to emerging information.

The developments and focus of NHEC advice over the coming months will be:

  • Support in setting up apprenticeships: a step by step guide, webinars and individually arranged support including training events on request
  • Apprenticeship funding and the Apprenticeship Levy: How it works and what your hospice needs to do
  • Finding the right Apprenticeship Training Provider / College and negotiating the delivery partnership and funding
  • Preparing your hospice to support apprentices – Learning and Development qualifications for your staff funded via apprenticeships
  • Updates on the Nursing Associate, Registered Nurse  and Advanced Clinical Practitioner Apprenticeships
  • New vocational qualifications for Health, Adult Care and  Allied Health Professional roles

Change always brings challenge, but these changes also bring opportunity.

For the first time we can offer those who want to enter a career in care the opportunity to progress from Level 2 Health Care Assistant to Registered Nurse via an employed route, combining paid work with study; no debt and flexible time scales. We can offer qualifications and progression for staff in non-clinical roles like HR, Accountancy, Marketing and Retail.  

Think of the new opportunities these reforms bring for our workforce development strategies and to those we employ.

To find out more about St Christopher’s Education and the National Hospice Education Collaborative, please contact Sally Garbett.

More information about the NHEC and how to join is available on the NHEC page of St Christopher’s Hospice website.

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