Image: Health Education Yorkshire and the Humber.Mental Health Case-study Series Bands 1-4

Health Education Yorkshire and the Humber

The Challenge

Health Education Yorkshire and the Humber already had a strong track record in supporting development of staff in bands 1-4. However, starting in late 2013 they set out to implement an exciting new approach to recruiting, retaining and developing support staff into Mental Health and Learning Disability Trusts using apprenticeships, role redesign and career progression frameworks for the region.

This involved working closely with seven organisations to develop and introduce a variety of Apprenticeship Schemes, with an overall aim that all new recruits in bands 1-3, both clinical and non-clinical, would start as an apprentice.  The other key aim of the project was to support role redesign across bands 1-4, introducing more consistency in the roles, responsibilities, learning and development for staff working in similar roles across the organisations.

“Even today there is no national standard entry level training programme for support staff – and that should not be the case. We want to change that in this region by saying all NHS service providers in Yorkshire and the Humber will use Apprentice Frameworks as the entry level training programme for all new starters where Frameworks exist and the employee does not already hold the relevant qualification for the job this is the training programme.”

Michael Holgate, Lifelong Learning Manager, Health Education Yorkshire and the Humber

With the formation of Local Education Training Boards, senior strategic and workforce leads in the region felt this was an ideal time to regroup, refocus, and improve. After identifying seven organisations providing Mental Health services they wanted to work with, they contacted Skills for Health to help with the project.

Skills for Health’s team would work across all seven organisations to provide expertise, flexibility and added capacity. And since training and development departments varied from trust to trust Skills for Health would play a valuable role in redesigning roles to ensure a level of consistency and measuring impact.

With input from Skills for Health they also created a steering group so stakeholders from all the organisations could meet to discuss experiences, best practice, and any problems that arose: a forum that would prove invaluable to all parties.

“The great thing about the steering group was the shared learning, instead of each of us having to reinvent the wheel. As Skills for Health has been involved across all the participating organisations they’ve been able to provide us all with vital progress and update reports on developments we can all benefit from.”

Julie Jones, Senior Training and Organisational Development Manager, Humber NHS Foundation Trust and Chair of Steering Group

How they did it

Exploring and Mapping

To begin with Skills for Health worked with a single Trust in Yorkshire to map in detail roles in bands 1-4. Meanwhile Skills for Health set about consulting with CEOs across their network of organisations to put together a wide-ranging, comprehensive overview of bands 1-4 roles.

Bringing these two perspectives together they were then able to develop clear goals and an action plan for all participating organisations. As the project in Yorkshire and the Humber developed and matured in parallel with the progression of the HEE national Talent for Care Framework, the original Actions Plans created by each of the seven employer organisations were amended and activities were labelled to comply with the three key elements of the Talent for Care strategy namely: Get In, Get On, Go Further.

The goals were to:

  • Recruit new people from the community, particularly young people and BAME groups
  • Use Employment programmes and assessment days to identify and channel candidates to apprenticeships or other appropriate roles
  • Assess the existing workforce’s educational and development needs
  • Bring about a cultural shift in organisations to embed the value of learning
  • Ensure all clinical and non-clinical staff have awareness of and access to development frameworks

Meeting Apprenticeship Targets through Entry-Level Recruitment

Linking entry level recruitment to apprenticeships is one way organisations can achieve these targets. By working with Skills for Health it is hoped that organisations can adjust their job descriptions and recruiting methods to access a wider section of the job market.

Candidates lacking experience or qualifications could be recruited onto apprenticeships as part of an entry level training programme; even for roles not explicitly advertised as apprenticeships.

Perhaps most importantly, they want it to be clear that each apprenticeship is linked to a job at the end. That means assessing workforce needs, identifying gaps, and then offering the apprenticeship as a training programme for that specific role.

Cavendish and the Care Certificate

Apprenticeships can help employers usher in Cavendish and the new Care Certificate; incorporating it into a clear framework with clear learning outcomes, whilst allowing them to access much needed funding for its provision.

Skills for Health also worked hard with all partners to guarantee all plans adhered to all other national and local policies and initiatives such as Talent for Care and Widening Participation HEE workforce strategies.

“So it’s no longer about working to a minimum via Cavendish. That’s the first 12 weeks, and then we carry on building on top of that, because we want people who are well trained. And that’s what apprenticeships deliver.” – Michael Holgate

Addressing Existing Workforce Issues

Through consulting with Skills for Health early on, one issue became very clear:  if this project is to gain long-lasting traction it can’t just be about new starters. It needs to address the existing workforce as well. That challenge has two elements.

One is simply about ensuring the frameworks developed can also be accessed by and benefit existing staff. The other is educating the workforce as to the benefits of ongoing training and development. Staff should be encouraged to see education as an opportunity rather than a threat, and managerial resistance to accepting apprentices needs to be addressed and broken down. Skills for Health would be integral in achieving both those goals.

The outcomes

The project is nearing completion and is now getting interest from other service providers. Health Education Yorkshire and Humber and Skills for Health are supporting them to develop their own tailored action plans. And although Skills for Health’s work with the steering group has finished the leads from each organisation recognise the value in continuing.

Meanwhile Skills for Health has started to assess the wider impact of the project on service and patient care. The programme is now ready to roll out and Skills for Health are ready to lend their unrivalled expertise to other healthcare workforces across the country to ensure they have the knowledge needed to provide the best possible care.