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New partnership ensures a healthy future for care sector

Sunderland College has announced a partnership with Be Caring to challenge the growing skills gap in the health and social care sector.

The partnership with the domiciliary care organisation will create opportunities for Be Caring’s employees to realise their potential and develop their skillset.

Lance Gardner, Clinical Director and Chairman of Be Caring, said:

“The people who work for us want to go further, however, historically there have been few opportunities for career progression within domiciliary care. It’s a fairly flat structure. I wanted to work with a partner who could provide my colleagues with the tools they need to develop and excel.”

Sunderland College, one of the region’s leading providers of tailored training to the health and care sector, currently works alongside 75 employers within the health and social care sector. In addition, the College has 200 students completing a minimum of 100 placement hours and more than 96% of its health and care students progress to employment or further study.

Ellen Thinnesen, chief executive for Education Partnership North East, a new regional group created by the merger of Sunderland College (including Hartlepool Sixth Form) and Northumberland College, said:

“I’ve known Lance for many years and this is a partnership that’s built on trust and a knowledge of our respective reputations. Be Caring saw what we were doing here in terms of transforming our health and social care provision for the benefit of the North East, its young people and employers.”

Ellen, who is also a qualified nurse, added:

“There is a harmony in terms of the core values that underpin two organisations at the heart of the health and social care sector. It’s a partnership that can have a wholly positive impact.”

Ensuring students learn in industry standard facilities and professional working environments, the Health Hub was launched last year. The state-of-the-art simulation area allows students to gain real experience prior to securing placements and jobs in the health and care sector.

Adele Cook, a Health and Social Care Lecturer at Sunderland College, who is also a qualified Mental Health Nurse, said:

“One of the first units we cover is communication. It’s the foundation for everything else that follows. The Health Hub allows us to create role play situations that develop students’ communication skills and self-confidence prior to their work placements and future employment.”

The Health Hub comprises a three-bed hospital ward, treatment room sluice area and a self-contained apartment that features mobile device-controlled lighting and entrance cameras to mirror a modern home care environment. There is also a mock ambulance interior for aspiring paramedics.

There are plans for Education Partnership North East to replicate the Health Hub facilities across the whole college group and make significant investments to its infrastructure and resources to expand the reach of skills development across the region as well as establishing strong regional and national employer partnerships.

17-year-old Level 3 Health and Social Care student, Aniqa Begum, used the experience she gained from the Health Hub during her placement at the A&E department at City Hospitals Sunderland. She said:

“Thanks to my time in the Health Hub, nothing fazed me. It would have been far too daunting otherwise. I see my future as a paramedic and I’m excited to take the next step.”

In addition to hosting healthcare professionals at the Health Hub, Sunderland College will deliver all of Be Caring’s external training requirements at sites in Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool.

Lance added:

“This partnership clearly benefits our current workforce but it also gives me a glimpse into the future and the wealth of talent coming through. I look at the Sunderland College students being put through their paces in the Health Hub and I see ready-made healthcare professionals.

“As an employer I could take on any one of these young people and know that Be Caring is welcoming a highly-trained and motivated professional who will benefit from the ongoing pastoral care that we pride ourselves on. I know they will hit the ground running.

“Be Caring don’t want to be a mediocre domiciliary care company. We want to be the best and we want to align ourselves with the best. That’s why we’re working with Sunderland College – I can’t think of anyone better.”

Visit the next open event to discover more about health and social care courses at Sunderland College.

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