First Care UK Health Care Support Workers to join The Open University

October 15th 2019

A group of Care UK Health Care Support Workers are set to be the first cohort of students to study for a Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship delivered by The Open University (OU).First Care UK Health Care Support Workers to join The Open University

The group of Health Care Support Workers are made up of Care UK employees across the Health in Justice division of more than 40 prisons and young offender establishments. The group have been chosen for their aptitude and determination to providing excellent care.

The Open University is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. They will be training using the OU’s unique work-based learning model, training with 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.

Rhiannon Harbour who works in the HMP Isle of Wight’s inpatient wing, always wanted to train as a nursing associate but as a single mother could not afford to go to university full time. She said, “This course is ideal. I get to keep doing the job I love while training for the job I always wanted. I started work in a care home for people living with dementia. Those skills have already helped to support people in the prison.”

She added, “It is wonderful to know that, as I train, I will be able to support more and more people, both patients and my colleagues. After I qualify, I want to stay working within Health in Justice. It is an incredible career, where you meet the widest variety of people, some with complex physical or mental health needs.”

Another student part of the group is Claire Walker, who works in the HMP Foston Hall’s healthcare wing. Claire started training to be a nurse, she then spent seven years working for Derby’s Royal Maternity Unit before going to Foston Hall. Claire said, “I was excited when I heard about the course. My son is now 14 and he has encouraged me to go for it. I was over the moon when I heard I’d been selected, but a little scared that, at 37, I am one of the older participants and it is nearly 10 years since I have studied. But the course had been really well designed. I will work three long shifts a week, training on the job, and then I will study at home.”

Head of School for Health in Wellbeing and Social Care at The Open University, Dr Sally Boyle said: “We are thrilled to be able to support Care UK in the delivery of our degree apprenticeship programme, as we nurture and train HCSWs to improve their skillset and continue their work as vital team members to the health service.”

There has also been support from Care UKs Director of Nursing, Kate Carter who said:  Care UK’s Health in Justice team serve thousands of patients in 43 English prisons. This includes some of the most vulnerable people within our society. This apprenticeship will let our colleagues continue to provide invaluable services, while training to take on further clinical roles in what is possibly one of the most interesting healthcare areas.”