“It enabled me to keep my passions going – my son and nursing.”
Cath Wilson, Deputy Director of Nursing at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT) , managed to combine her work with caring for her son, who has complex needs, because of the support she received.
And she has recently launched a campaign across both Trusts called Supervision Together all Year (STaY) aimed at retaining new nurses at the Trusts.
Data has shown that if nurses stay at either organisation for a year, they’re more likely to remain for two, and if they stay for two years, they’re more likely to stay for five years.
Thanks to her line manager, Cath stayed loyal to her Trust after benefitting from life-changing support more than a decade ago.
Cath and husband Stuart’s 19-year-old son Charlie has needs including a severe and complex developmental delay, he had no sense of danger or pain and he was born with a cleft palate.
By the time Charlie was five, he needed a high level of supervision, which wasn’t available at the time in school wraparound care. Cath, who was a Practice Placement Manager in an Education Team, thought she would have to become a full-time carer. Then her boss intervened.
“My boss asked if I’d thought about term-time contracts,” said Cath. “It sounded better than what I was planning as becoming a carer would have led to the loss of my Nursing PIN and registration.”
A term-time contract means the employee receives an annualised salary, which deducts leave for all school holidays.
Charlie’s many medical appointments meant Cath needed more flexibility – but again, help was at hand.
“They adjusted my contract to include 13 weeks’ leave,” she added. “It was a case of ‘what do you need to help you stay here?’
“That reduced my salary, but I kept my professional registration and Stuart became self-employed, which allowed him to do school runs and I did all the school holidays and medical appointments.”
Cath’s line manager had had a similar experience herself, and her support was reciprocated.
“I became the most loyal employee for those 11 years, as I felt valued and cared for by the organisation, so I stayed and worked really hard,” she added.
“I had three roles in that time but I kept the term-time contract. I undertook a three-year term on the Board of Governors and completed a Master’s degree.
“I had the right work-life balance. I feel I didn’t miss out and it enabled me to keep my passions – my son and nursing.”
Cath’s experience convinced her to offer similar arrangements to new recruits, while accommodating the needs of a 24-hour-a-day service.
“I’ll even say at interview ‘is there anything you’re afraid to ask for in case you think we won’t want you as a result?’” she said.
Charlie now has two personal assistants to help with social activities and he’s undertaking a grounds maintenance course on a supported internship with a job coach through a local college.
Anyone who is interested in the benefits of the STaY initiative should view this link: https://www.walsallhealthcare.nhs.uk/news/2023/01/18/retention-drive-for-nurses/