Teesside University’s School of Health and Life Sciences and Maria Mallaband Care Group, one of the UK’s leading providers of residential and nursing home care are working together to train care assistants to become Nursing Associates.

The role of Nursing Associate was created following the Shape of Caring review held by Health Education England (HEE) in 2015, which identified a gap in skills and knowledge between healthcare assistants and registered nurses. Maria Mallaband is using the new qualification to upskill its care workers. This is also enabling the Group to free up registered nurses to focus on more complex clinical care. Ultimately the aim is to bolster the care the Group provides for residents and patients by enhancing the qualifications and morale of more staff.

“What we’ve achieved in a short space of time with the support of Teesside University is incredible,” explained Alyson Thompson, Group Training Manager for Maria Mallaband Care Group. “They have guided us through the process of training our care workers and have put a full programme in place for us that meets our needs perfectly. The University has put us on the path, and there’s no stopping us now.”

The course is structured into residential courses that take place on the university campus at Darlington. “The University has built the course to suit our needs,” Alyson said. “Initially we were thinking that staff would be released a day at time, but the University suggested week-long blocks. That’s proved to be a great move. They have alsp enabled the trainee associates to evidence their learning by arranging placements with other healthcare providers.”

The first cohort of Maria Mallaband care assistants started the Nursing Associate course in 2019. Over the next few years the Group expects hundreds of its care workers from all over England to qualify. “Our staff come back from the courses incredibly motivated and ready to put in practice what they’ve learned,” Alyson revealed. “It’s good for them, good for our residents and good for the registered nurses they are supporting. In short, I can’t recommend working with Teesside University enough. If we have any questions, they are answered straight away. If we come across a barrier, they come up with several solutions. For this kind of programme, I wouldn’t work with anyone else.”