Image: NaviGO Bands 1-4.NAViGO

Launched as a social enterprise in 2011 NAViGO now has a 500 strong workforce delivering health and care services across North East Lincolnshire. Last year, looking to continue this growth, NAViGO announced its ambition to develop frameworks to attract and retain more apprentices. The introduction of a new role within a newly launched service presented them with the perfect opportunity to explore and refine their approach.

The challenge

Sourcing Advice and Expertise

A decision was made early on that every vacancy at Bands 1-4 across the organisation would now be considered an apprentice role. Moving forward, new job descriptions would be competence-based and services would all have a clear career progression pathway.

At this point NAViGO turned to Skills for Health to ensure they had access to a wide, evidence-based range of best practice and advice throughout this process. They could also call upon existing agreements with other Mental Health Services in Yorkshire and Humber to share costs and knowledge around the development of apprenticeships.

How they Did it

Competence-based Role Creation

NAViGO then put this approach into action to create the brand new role of Technical Care Assistant for their new community based service.

With input and support from Skills for Health and others, such as Occupational Therapists and Community Nurses, they refined key competences and translated them into a clearly defined, community based role. The new role has been created to provide advice and guidance for people to use assistive technology, reduce isolation, and ensure protection and safeguarding.

“The Technical Care Assistant is now a competence-based role that clinical staff are really excited about. And it also offers a genuine opportunity to local jobseekers.”

Jacqui Ellis, Head of Workforce & Development, NAViGO

NAViGO then rolled this practice out further. By successfully applying it to all roles in the new ‘Home from Home’ service they are now able to offer a clear framework of progression from Band 1-4 apprenticeships to advanced practitioner roles and beyond. Throughout the process NAViGO made use of Skills for Health’s expertise and a local placement student from Hull University to draft apprenticeship contracts.

The next step was to bring about a change in culture and ensure acceptance of apprenticeships across the entire organisation.

Image: NaviGO Bands 1-4.

The outcomes

Making a Case for Apprentices

Due to NAViGO’s small size the workforce and development team have been able to introduce apprenticeships relatively quickly. However, convincing managers and staff was still an important factor for successful implementation.

To help achieve this goal Skills for Health’s steering committee provided Jacqui and her team with a wealth of knowledge, connections, and best practice insight that successfully informed their strategy presentations to senior managers.

Consequently, although placing apprentices in some clinical areas remains a challenge, colleagues across the organisation were generally very receptive and appreciative.

Progress Made

  • Made all Band 1-4 roles across organisation into apprenticeships
  • Switched to competence-based job descriptions
  • Created new role of Technical Care Assistant
  • Three Technical Care Assistants recruited
  • Eight other apprentices taken on in non-clinical roles
  • Partnerships built with local employment agencies and colleges

Successful Outcomes through Flexible Support

NAViGO has now recruited three Technical Care Assistants into their new service and has also taken on eight apprentices in other, non-clinical roles across the organisation. The new apprenticeship programme has also been successful in building partnerships for the future with the local sixth form college and Job Centre Plus.

The team are determined to continue building on that momentum. They are currently hoping to use a cohort of apprentices to break down those barriers in clinical areas; an approach picked up from a recent visit to another organisation.

“The project has certainly been challenging. But ultimately we are pleased with the achievements so far and feel that we really are making a positive impact that will benefit both NAViGO and the local workforce of the future. Added to this is the freedom a social enterprise structure provides in terms of being innovative and creative which was a good fit with Skills for Health.”

Jacqui Ellis