Over the last 5 years, 89 Waitemata DHB healthcare assistants have successfully completed work-based training allowing them to gain a nationally recognised qualification. The DHB believes that all members of the health care team matter. The healthcare assistants provide patient care under the direction and delegation of a nurse or midwife, and they provide support for the whole health care team. It is important that they receive the education and support to achieve the standard of care expected. “We want to encourage and support them to achieve a qualification and grow personally through a sense of achievement and increase in confidence,” says Waitemata DHB Nurse Educator, Lynley Davidson.
In December 2016, 22 healthcare assistants achieved a Level 3 New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Health Assistance) qualification. This qualification is designed to recognise the existing skills, knowledge and experience of healthcare assistants and focuses on providing person-centred support in a range of health and wellbeing settings.
There were mixed feelings among staff when presented with the idea of doing training. “A number have not studied for many years and are unsure about their ability to achieve academically. Others can’t wait to learn. It is wonderful to see them light up as they begin to understand why things are done and what a difference they can make to patient care delivery. All of those we have put through this programme talk about loving the knowledge gained and increase in self-confidence,” shares Lynley. But on 13 December 2016, it was a proud moment for everyone when certificates were awarded to staff after successfully completing their work-based training programme.
Flexible work-based training programme that works
For the first time, the DHB offered the training across various clinical areas to include healthcare assistants from maternity, mental health, acute care and outpatients clinics. “We have been able to do this because the new Level 3 NZ Certificate in Health and Wellbeing qualification allows us to be far more flexible in adjusting the content to meet the needs of the healthcare assistants,” says Lynley. In collaboration with Waikato DHB, they have developed an integrated assessment programme with several different strands which are targeted at specific areas (acute care, mental health, maternity, clinic and orderly).
Waitemata DHB invested time and resources to ensure their staff successfully complete. Those
undergoing training were supported by the Nurse Educator and were given three (paid) study days. When necessary, they received one-to-one coaching.
For those struggling to articulate answers in written form, verbal assessments were accepted. This especially helped staff with English as a second language – proving that this should not be a barrier to training. The charge nurses and midwives gave support to their healthcare assistant staff. A nurse or midwife was allocated to each staff on training to provide support, and to observe and validate the competency required which supported the assessment process.
The difference that training makes
At the end of the training, staff were asked how they thought the training impacted their work and how they will do things differently. Lynley shares, “the stories they tell are amazing! Like how what they notice and report makes a difference to patient care or how they managed a difficult situation differently or how they now think about how best to show respect to different cultural needs or how to encourage the patient to ask questions. Others talk about having the confidence to take on extra responsibilities or speak up to make positive changes in their teams.”
Waitemata DHB encourages their staff to progress their careers and continue training. They have healthcare assistants who join nursing or midwifery programmes and work part-time. They would help them through flexible rostering and support from their charge nurses. “We have one past participant who is now in her second year of nursing education as a direct result of completing her training,” Lynley adds.
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