The Open University (OU) has partnered with Care UK to deliver the Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship to Health Care Support Workers (HCSWs) who are employed across more than 40 prison and young offender establishments where healthcare services are provided by Care UK’s Health in Justice division.
The apprentices will train using the OU’s unique work-based learning model, training within their prisons as well as studying at home to ensure they can grow their skills while continuing to provide the highest standards of quality and best practice.
Care UK's National Lead Nurse, Annie Dale, said: "Because The Open University has the capacity to have a consistent approach across the whole country, rather than just specifically localising in one area or another, I think we fit together really, really well. This is such an opportunity for us to reward our really, really loyal long-term Health Care Support Workers. We've got some amazing people working in our services and this is the best opportunity for them to show how good they are at what they do."
Deputy National Lead Nurse, Julia Waldron added: "The OU's been really proactive in working with us. They've really embraced that we work within a prison setting and have been really open to learn about the different environments we work in, our patients and why we're passionate about what we do. I've been so impressed just with the enthusiasm and the dedication from the OU team.
The first cohort of 11 HCSWs, from HMP Isle of Wight; HMP Oakwood; HMP/YOI Swinfen Hall; HMP Dovegate; HMP Foston Hall and HMP New Hall, are due to start their studies this month, followed by another cohort in February 2020. The first cohort visited the OU's campus in Milton Keynes for an induction and information session. Two new apprentices, Rebecca and Claire, shared their stories:
I always wanted to try to do something more nursing based. I wanted to go further with it but never had the opportunity to do it. Being out of school age now, I own my own house, have other responsibilities, I can't afford to just up and go to university, which I'd love to. I still get to work, still get a wage, still get to pay my bills and get my qualification at the end of it. So it's perfect.Rebecca, Nursing Associate apprentice, HMP Dovegate, Care UK.
I did my nursing for about two and half years and family got in the way and I didn't complete it. Through this apprenticeship my knowledge and skills will increase because I can still work in a job that I love. I've got a family, I've got a son at home, so I can still have a family life and be able to further my career.Claire, Nursing Associate apprentice, Foston Hall, Care UK
Having delivered nursing education since 2002 and with more than 15 years’ experience in providing its degree apprenticeship programmes, the OU nursing courses have a high student retention rate of 91% and are rated in the top 6% of approved nursing education providers by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Taking on average two years and four months to complete, the course is a mixture of theory and practice, which is taught through work-based and online tutor-supported learning.