Providing nursing staff with opportunities to shadow the most senior leaders in their organisation could help with staff engagement and retention, a chief nurse has said.
Health and social care nursing leaders came together this week to exchange key recruitment and retention strategies, as part of an event hosted by Care England, Future Care Capital and Talent for Care.
“It’s about seeing how we can support people in their career [and] giving them the opportunities”
During a panel discussion, Kathryn Halford, chief nurse and deputy chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, shared some of the approaches her trust had taken.
She said: “We look at how we grow our own staff [and] how we can get our local community to come and work and be part of the health and social care sector.”
Ms Halford explained that the northeast of London, where she worked, was “a highly deprived area of the country”.
She said: “We have lots of people who have very poor academic qualifications, so it’s very difficult for them to access traditional routes through university to become nurses, physiotherapists and [occupational therapists].”
In response to this, the trust had undertaken work around using apprenticeships to help people come into the profession, she said.
Ms Halford said: “We recognise that people are not only unfamiliar with doing academic work, but they’re very scared of it.
“We have a big pastoral care programme that supports our staff into the workforce so that they can believe that they can be part of that workforce.”
The panel also discussed different approaches to engage and retain existing staff.
Ms Halford described a programme within her trust where, every week, she has a nurse, midwife or healthcare assistant shadow her “to understand how the corporate team works” and how they develop and implement strategies within the organisation.
However, she said communication across the trust about these types of programmes was a challenge they were trying to overcome.
Ms Halford said: “There are lots of things that I’m sure all organisations do, but it’s really difficult to communicate with everybody.
“We have about 10,500 members of staff running a seven day service every day of the year, and it is really difficult to make sure that everybody knows what’s going on.”
“It frees up time for staff to be able to do more hands-on care and more engagement and interaction with residents”
Some staff “do not know what support there is available for them” or what opportunities the trust has to offer, Ms Halford said.
She added that trusts should target key messaging to groups who may be less likely to see opportunities, and less likely to apply.
At Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, around 10% of the workforce is Filipino, said Ms Halford.
For nurses, she explained that many were stuck in band 5 positions despite working at the trust for a long time.
In response, the trust launched a programme of support to help these internationally educated nurses climb the career ladder, supporting them with job applications and interviews.
Through the programme, more than 100 Filipino staff have moved into band 6 and band 7 roles, Ms Halford said.
She added: “It’s about seeing how we can support people in their career [and] giving them the opportunities.
“If we notice that there are groups of people or individuals who aren’t making the progress that we would expect, ask them why they aren’t.”
Meanwhile, Joanne Balmer, chief executive of nursing home provider Oakland Care, discussed how she faced “similar challenges” in social care around communicating with staff.
Ms Balmer, who is an adult nurse by background, said that they had introduced an app at Oakland Care so that members of staff are able to keep in contact with one another.
“There are work groups, so if a home manager wants to post something out to their teams they can do that,” she said.
“If I want to an announcement for one of our individual homes I can.
“We can get instant communication out to the entire workforce at any time of the day.”
Ms Balmer argued that social care was “catching up” in terms of adopting new technologies to support the workforce.
She noted that Oakland Care had adopted the NHS eRostering model, which is an electronic way of scheduling when staff come into work.
Ms Balmer said: “It is able to give team members flexibility to be able to request shift swaps and things like that, to enable them to manage their work-life balance better.”
Separately, Oakland Care is currently trialling robotics, where a robot does deliveries which enables staff to spend more time with patients, said Ms Balmer.
She added: “It frees up time for staff to be able to do more hands-on care and more engagement and interaction with residents.
“I can’t say how it’s going to pan out, as its only on trial at the moment, but we’ll see how it goes.”