Seventy two new staff have been welcomed by Walsall Manor Hospital teams as part of a joint initiative with whg and Walsall College to ‘support the dreams’ of local jobseekers.
The new staff are all healthcare support workers (HCSWs) and will occupy permanent roles with an option to join the Trust’s bank teams too.
As part of the project, local jobseekers will enrol on an NHS sector training course with Walsall College. This pre-employment course has been developed specifically for Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and aims to give participants the knowledge, skills and expertise to apply for a range of NHS positions.
The course includes an overview of working in the NHS, work experience, employability skills and a guaranteed interview on successful completion.
The project has previously had some fantastic results, with unemployed clients of whg securing roles at the Manor as support service assistants and HCSWs in April 2021.
Following the college course, candidates attend a five-day induction programme where they are provided with a uniform and an identity badge, given training on fitting masks, given mental health training and taught about everyday occurrences, such as safeguarding, infection control, prevention of falls and pressure ulcers, and moving and handling. They are also educated on Trust values and behaviours, and provided with health and wellbeing advice.
Associate Director of Research and Professional Development Lorna Kelly said: “We are supporting individuals to return to the workplace because research shows people in employment have better health outcomes.
“But also we’re supporting our workforce so they have the right amount of people with the right skills in the right place to care for our patients.
“We have a high number of these vacancies because there’s been a nursing establishment review at Walsall which highlighted the need for more HCSWs in some of our clinical areas, and this is what we’re trying to do to support the workforce.”
HCSWs will receive all the support they need in their new roles to enable them to progress their careers in the healthcare profession, should they wish.
“Through some funding we have received we have managed to ensure the HCSWs receive ongoing pastoral support and education, and members of my team will be going to out to ensure they’re getting the appropriate support they need within their clinical areas to complete their Care Certificate,” added Lorna.
“We are then hoping there will be some career progression for them following on from that. We’ve got an academic pathway for them to follow so they can do their NVQ and access to nurse training, if they want.”
Head of Organisational Development and Culture Marsha Belle said: “This is very much about supporting people back into employment and supporting some to achieve their dreams.
“As a major employer in what is classed as a deprived area it’s the right thing to do. We listened and acted on feedback which included a review of our application process to make it more inclusive. As a result we have reached people who have demonstrated they have so much to offer to support excellent patient care.
“One of the applicants who came through the programme said: ‘It’s never too late to follow your dreams and achieve your goals.’ She said when she was successful, she phoned her mum and they both cried because she was so proud.
“Another told us she never thought she’d get this opportunity because she hadn’t worked for years and was really uncomfortable about what she could do.
“It’s a holistic approach – getting people into decent accommodation and decent jobs where they have opportunities and hopefully, through that, better outcomes for their health. Using an established link in the community such as whg means we can reach people we wouldn’t ordinarily reach because they have the trust of those people.”
Here is what some successful applicants said about their experience after completing the previous programme:
“We were taught so many things which prepared us completely for the interview. With hard work and dedication, I was able to secure this job which I am very happy and thank God for.”
“I am very proud to have been offered a position at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, and would recommend this course to anyone. Thank you for this opportunity.”
Julie Haywood, Director of Community Investment at whg, said: “This partnership approach empowers residents with low aspirations to develop their confidence, skills and knowledge to maximise their chances of success when applying for NHS positions.
“We have had some amazing success stories and are thrilled so many of our unemployed customers have been offered jobs.”
Assistant Principal at Walsall College James Norris added: “Many individuals can find the process of looking for work and applying for roles overwhelming.
“Our pre-employment programmes are ideal for these people, helping them get across specific hurdles, such as a lack of recent experience or interview practice and go further.”