Friendship and company can be important at any stage in life but when you’re in a new country, in a new job and in a different culture, it can be a lifeline.
This is why we have started a ‘buddying’ scheme to help our international nurses settle in to their new lives here at Walsall Healthcare Trust – led by our BAME Shared Decision Making Council and supported by our Well Wishers charity. Moving to an unfamiliar environment can be extremely challenging, so we want to make the transition for our new colleagues as smooth as possible.
Things that many of us take for granted, such as travelling to and from work, accommodation, how to pay bills, the language, food and the weather, as well as the absence of friends and family can be lonely and daunting and lead to stress.
We have recently welcomed dozens of international nurses as part of 267 new staff joining us between now and the winter. They are all set to form an important part of our workforce as we look to reduce reliance on agency staff because evidence shows if you employ permanent staff then patient experience and patient outcomes are better.
The introduction of buddying at Walsall follows on from a scheme run at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust when a large cohort of international nurses were supported there to settle in, and this proved hugely successful.
BAME Council Chair Joan Dyer, Matron, said: “We can only imagine how it feels to arrive in a completely different country, leaving family and friends behind, to start working for a completely different organisation and we want to ensure our new colleagues feel supported. By creating a buddying scheme involving colleagues from across the Trust who can be that listening ear or someone to relax with is a way to support this.”
These new members of staff are really making an impression among both their new colleagues and patients.
A nursing workforce plan has been developed to address the current and future staffing challenges at Walsall. Its aim is to increase student nurse numbers, attract and retain experienced registered nurses, recruit international nurses and develop a strong base of Clinical Support Workers. One of the key elements of this drive has been the introduction of the Clinical Nursing Fellowship (CNF) programme which aims to recruit nurses both from the UK and internationally.
Since establishing the programme in May, the Trust has welcomed over 80 international registered nurses, with the additional 100 due to arrive from overseas before the end of the year.
Amy Reynolds, Senior Sister on Ward 11, said: “It’s fantastic to have our new nurses who are really making a difference. I have definitely seen some of our future Matrons among them.
“Our new colleagues have left everything familiar to them behind to make their careers here in Walsall and we should never forget that.”
I’m sure you will join me in welcoming our new nurses to the trust and wishing them all the best in their new roles. It’s a very exciting time for them and for the organisation and I’m really happy they have chosen to work with us. It sends a positive message that we are healthcare setting where staff can be nurtured and developed to achieve their full potential and then retained.
For anyone interested in becoming a Walsall buddy to our international nurses, a small welcome event has been arranged for Thursday 19 August, 2-3pm, Concourse Area, MLCC. It would be great if you could come along.