Guest Blog - Avril Devaney - Director of Nursing, Therapies and Patient Participation

08 December 2017

As we approach the end of another year it’s natural for us to pause and reflect on significant milestones from the last 12 months.

One of our key achievements in 2017 has been our partnership working in introducing our new trainee Nursing Associate programme. CWP are the lead employer in the Cheshire and Wirral Partnership pilot for the training of 44 Nursing Associates.

The Nursing Associate role has been designed to improve outcomes for people accessing our services by bridging the gap between clinical support workers and registered nurses.  It also provides people with an alternative route into degree nursing. Nursing Associates are an addition to the nursing family and will work alongside other established roles in the team. This new role will bring an additional set of skills to teams as they are person centred rather than branched. Nursing Associates will have experience and training in all four fields of nursing and, once qualified, will be regulated by the Nursing Midwifery Council (NMC).

Our first cohort of eight Trainee Nursing Associates at CWP were all appointed internally and have now been in training for almost a year. They have experienced placements in partner organisations and we have received trainees from other trusts in our partnership. Traditional organisational barriers have been removed and the trainees are consistently reporting that their understanding and skills have been enhanced by this partnership working and shared experience.

As part of the pilot we also developed  a role for volunteers with lived experience as ‘ Lived Experience Connectors’ –   each trainee is linked with a connector and their role is to support the trainees to develop their person centredness as they work across different organisations and care settings. Other pilot sites are very interested in this role and it has been suggested that all health and social care trainees should be linked with a Lived Experience Connector during their training.

In recent weeks I had the great pleasure of attending Health Education England’s national Nursing Associates conference, which aimed to celebrate success and share learning from the programme’s first year.

I was delighted to be joined on the day by Trainee Nursing Associate Richard Sherwood from East Cheshire Hospitals Trust and Lived Experience Connector Simon Hough. Together, we shared our journey so far to a national audience of delegates, describing our experiences since welcoming the first cohort of Trainee Nursing Associates in Cheshire and Wirral Partnership.

I, like everyone in the room, was particularly moved by the way Richard discussed the influence that Simon – his Lived Experience Connector – has had on his learning. He said: “Simon has helped me see beyond the mask of illness and see the person.” This profound statement perfectly described how our commitment to person centredness has been the driving force behind the whole programme.

Although we’re now a year in, we are still in many ways at the start of our Nursing Associate journey. I’m so thrilled that CWP has been able to lead the way as a pioneer of this programme, and we want to support others to bring about meaningful change by sharing our discoveries, successes and challenges along the way. All our current Nursing Associate trainees have been blogging regularly and I’d encourage everyone to read about their unique experiences.

We wish our trainees well as they go into their second year and look forward to hearing more about their progress. We would also like to thank all CWP staff who have welcomed Trainee Nursing Associates on their placements. Your warm welcome and support has made a huge difference to their learning and experience.

Best wishes,


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