Delivering first-class learning and development opportunities for all our staff is of paramount importance, but it can be a challenge.
Not only are there the ever-present budgetary pressures but, as an organisation not linked with an NHS Trust, we don’t always hear about new developments and training opportunities as early as we would like.
Our new learning agreement with the RCN will change this by giving us the opportunity to be at the forefront of new learning initiatives and national drivers.
As the union representing the nursing family, the RCN is committed to developing excellence in nursing practice and, through access to its learning and development resources, we can ensure that our nurses and healthcare support workers are working to the highest standards.
At the heart of the learning agreement is an agreed 12 month learning plan which is specific to our organisation and sets out how we will work together and what outcomes will be achieved.
We will support a nominated learning representative through the accredited learning and development pathway for RCN representatives which will provide them with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to undertake their role.
The work of our learning representative, practice development nurse Ginny Allen, is concentrated around promoting learning in the workplace to ensure that our nurses are kept up-to-date and can practice safely and effectively. She also works with staff to help them achieve their personal aims and objectives so that they can fulfil their potential and make their desired career progression.
In addition to cascading existing resources, the learning agreement gives us a route to influencing the RCN’s learning offer.
If we can identify a need for a particular type of learning or resource within the organisation that isn’t currently addressed, we can talk to the RCN to see if they can support us to meet the learning need, or even work on a national scale if we feel the issue isn’t unique to our service.
The RCN also works closely with unionlearn, the learning and skills organisation within the TUC, and have a vast range of learning resources that cover all sectors, which means we will have access to support for non-clinical roles too. A great example are the ‘stress-busting’ sessions which we hope to be delivering to staff very soon.
Since signing our learning agreement in March this year, we have been asked to participate in the ‘Working longer’ pilot project which is exploring how we can support staff to prepare for working later in life.
Areas that are being addressed include mid-life development reviews to support planned career progression, health and wellbeing, and financial planning for retirement. The pilot study involves developing a national toolkit to help support staff to work to a higher retirement age. We have also trialled some of the resources being developed and overall it has been extremely interesting to be involved and to have the opportunity to spearhead change.
The RCN have published a booklet entitled ‘Learning agreements: the benefits for independent healthcare sector employers’ which can be found in the publications section of the RCN website.