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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Care cadets on course

AN initiative to support and train cadets for careers in health and social care is proving a huge success for aspiring young nurses and clinicians across Morecambe Bay.

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CAREER PATH: Health and Social Care cadets at Furness General Hospital, with Amanda O’Brien, Trust cadet co-ordinator (centre)

Over the last four years, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) has run and developed a Health and Social Care Cadet programme.

Working in partnership with Furness College and Lancaster and Morecambe College, the trust’s scheme caters for the training and development of 36 young people each year, split evenly between Furness General Hospital and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

Typically in the 16 to 19-year-old age bracket, the cadets are provided with a ‘hands on’ educational and practical platform from which to launch a career in health and social care. Each cadet completes six 12-week placements over two years.

Successful cadets in recent years include Jay Watson who is now training to be a paramedic at Barrow, and Emma Doherty who is undertaking her student nurse training at Lancaster.

With dedicated support and commitment of staff at both hospitals, cadets can now experience placements within acute medicine, sub acute medicine, surgery, elderly care, out patients department, theatres, and high dependency units.

Amanda O’Brien, lead cadet co-ordinator, UHMBT, said: “This has been a fantastic initiative and an opportunity to really underline the word ‘university’ in our organisation’s name.

“Our programme also supports government targets in assisting young people to get on training programmes,
into the workplace and on to the career ladder.

“We have 26 student nurses and trainee paramedics on placement at Lancaster and Barrow, all of whom secured their places on completion of the cadet programme.

“Our cadet programme would not be the success it is if it was not for the expertise of colleagues who mentor and train learners in the workplace, and the tireless support of our local colleges.”

Furness College and Lancaster and Morecambe College deliver the academic component of the programme, enabling cadets to achieve equivalent to three A-Levels on completion, the requisite academic level for university access.

Jane Ridyard, director of young people’s learning at Furness College, said: “The academic side of the course is delivered at the college by staff that were, or still are, health professionals. The practical part has been based at Furness General Hospital, local doctors’ surgeries and health clinics. This has allowed students the opportunity to work alongside professionals in placements that would normally not have been accessible.

“Their experiences at Furness General Hospital and the tremendous support they were given by all the staff there, has given them the aspirations to go on to future careers in the health service and they hope it will allow them to return to work here in Barrow. This is a perfect example of growing our own future work force.”

The programme has proved highly popular at both colleges, with applications far exceeding cadet places. Some 85 per cent of cadets at Barrow and 83 per cent of cadets at Lancaster secure a university place on completion of their course, with many going on to study for nursing and paramedic qualifications.

All of the trust’s current cadets achieved a diploma in health and social care at the end of year one and have now started their studies to gain their extended diploma in health and social care by the end of year two. This achievement was recognised at the trust’s recent staff awards, all the cadets were presented with a Staff Achievement Award as a way of recognising their achievements.

Jackie Holt, executive chief nurse, UHMBT, said: “This is a terrific scheme which helps to cement the trust as a real part of our local communities, as well as giving us the ability to offer opportunities to young people wishing to consider a career in health and healthcare.”

All cadets are given the opportunity to join UHMBT’s nurse bank, which provides a valuable income while they are studying as well as contributing further to their learning and development.

Work placement experience within the Emergency Department at Furness General Hospital is also being developed.

Outside agencies including Mental Health, Social Services and Primary Care also contribute and provide valuable learning environments.

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