Come back… to nursing.
Are you an experienced nurse who has been on a career break? If you have let your registration lapse but you want to get back to nursing, we can help.
As one of the biggest providers of community healthcare in the country, our colleagues are our greatest asset. We are always looking for committed healthcare professionals to join us!
During your training you will be employed by us as a Health Care Assistant, and following successful completion of the course this will lead to a substantive band 5 nursing role in one of our community hospitals or community locality teams.
Our trust is rated ‘good’ by the CQC and changes to the NHS mean there’s never been a better time to come to community!
We can offer you:
- All course costs
- Employment as an HCA during your training
- regular clinical peer supervision networks
- perceptorship programme
- in-house competency learning
- development opportunities.
To find out more, phone Head of Clinical Education Helen Hatter on 01233 668184.
What our colleagues say
It was purely by chance that community nurse Bobby Coe found herself working in the Rapid Response Team based at the Coxheath Clinic just outside Maidstone, but a few months down the line she wouldn’t dream of changing jobs.
By the time Bobby signed up for Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust’s return to practice course, the choice of training places was limited, which is how she found herself at Coxheath.
Now qualified and looking after her own patients across a wide area, Bobby has found the role a challenging one – and she loves it.
“The other students I trained with have moved into community nursing, but I just love the variety and the challenge that comes with being part of the Rapid Response Team,” said the 50 year-old former theatre nurse.
“Patients are referred by a number of routes, from district nurses to ambulance crews and on-call doctors, and it is down to us to make the right decisions about their care and then deliver that care. It’s full on and demanding, but very rewarding.”
The aim of the Rapid Response Team is to keep patients out of hospital, which both reduces pressure on NHS beds and is generally better for the individual, who can be cared for in the comfort of his or her own home.
As well as helping to keep patients out of hospital, Bobby and the other rapid response nurses also help those who have been discharged but still need extra care during their first few days at home.
While it’s a fast-paced and high-pressure role, Bobby is quick to point out that she is not alone. “We receive fantastic support from the rest of the team and there is always someone to ask if you need a second opinion or some advice,” she said.
Bobby trained and worked in Medway Hospital between 2001 and 2010 and for the last three years of her service was a staff nurse working in operating theatres.
She stopped work to care for her daughter Halle, who had been born in 2009, because the shift patterns didn’t suit motherhood and her family came first. Still keen to keep busy, she did voluntary work with Victim Support, and might have carried on with that organisation if fate had not intervened.
“At the end of 2014, with Halle now at school, I was about to apply for a paid post at Victim Support when I happened to hear an advertisement on the radio for the return to practice scheme,” she recalled.
“`I had let my registration lapse because I didn’t think I would be able to go back to the old shift patterns, but community nursing appealed to me and so I went for an interview and was accepted for the course.
“I began working as healthcare assistant (HCA) for three days a week, with the other two days spent training, backed up by one day a fortnight at Canterbury Christ Church University, where we brushed up on legislation and current practices.”
Bobby began working as an HCA in February 2015 and started her day release studies in April, finishing the course in July. “It was tough to study, work and look after a family at the same time, and at times I found it stressful, but I knew it was only for three months and I was determined to complete the course,” she said. “You just have to be very organised, but it is worthwhile.”
The course completed, Bobby still had to wait from July until November to get her registration ‘PIN’, and she admits to having a few doubts during that time. “I was keen to get out there, but at the same time I was a bit hesitant,” she recalled. “It made me realise that I was going to be accountable.”
Once out in the field, though, the fears disappeared, not least because Bobby knew there was plenty of support back at base – and as one of half a dozen rapid response nurses covering a far-flung 550 square miles there isn’t too much time to brood.
“I love it,” she said. “This is a fantastic service and I am proud to be a part of it. Deciding to sign up for return to practice was the best career decision I have made for a long time.
“What I particularly enjoy is the interaction you get from the patients. Coming away knowing that you have made a difference to someone’s life makes you feel fantastic.”
An inspirational visit from the then chief executive of Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust on the day Clive Laker started in his new role reassured him that he was moving to an organisation he could be proud to work for.
“Those who were new to the trust gathered on our first day back in February 2015. To my surprise, Marion Dinwoodie, who was at that time the chief executive, came in and personally welcomed us to the trust,” the 56 year-old former pastor recalled.
“I was really inspired by the idea that someone with her responsibilities could find the time to come and talk to us, and that concern for the team is something that has continued to impress me.”
As one of the first candidates to join the return to practice course in the west of Kent, Clive completed his training in August 2015 and has already received his registration PIN as a staff nurse.
He started with the Rapid Response Team based at Coxheath but has since transferred to community nursing, where he is part of the team caring for patients in Aylesford, Burham, Eccles and Wouldham.
In some ways, his new role resembles the job he used to do as Vicar of St George’s Church in Tolworth, although the visits to patients are more focused than those he used to make to parishioners.
“I have never lost the feeling that it is a privilege to be invited into somebody’s home, though,” he explained. “Clearly we don’t have limitless time to spend with patients, but I like to get to know them and I am very aware that sometimes I am the only person they see all day.’’
Like all community staff nurses, Clive deals with patients with diabetes, wounds, and incontinence and those in need of post-operative care. He also helps provide end-of-life care, something he is particularly interested in.
But whatever that day’s tasks are, he is clear about one thing. “I love what I am doing,” he said. “I like to get out and about, meeting people, helping them and facing new challenges.”
Married to Carol, and with five children aged between 19 and 29, Clive is now setting himself new challenges and is signed up for study days to learn more about giving intravenous drugs, using syringe drivers and dealing with lower leg conditions.
He trained at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington in 1979 and worked in urology before spending six years in nurse education. He left in 1994 and was a lay pastor before being ordained, serving the church until Christmas Day 2012.
“After a bit of a break I was wondering what to do with the next stage of my life and had a look at a jobs website with a view to doing some part-time work,” he recalled. “That was when I saw the advertisement for the return to practice course with the trust. I feel I have never looked back.”
Clive began working as a healthcare assistant in March 2015, began his Return to Practice studies at Canterbury Christ Church University in April and completed the course in August.
After being out for 20 years, he was not surprised to learn that much has changed, with new dressings and methodologies just part of the new nursing landscape, but he said one thing had remained constant. “The qualities that make a good nurse haven’t changed.”
Clive is keen to see more people follow him back into community nursing because he can see the benefits it has for the health service. “With the pressure on hospital beds, and the costs involved, it makes sense to discharge patients earlier alongside managing complex needs within the community, as long as both can be done safely,” he commented.
“For that to happen – with benefits for the patients as well as the NHS – we need more people qualified to look after them in the community. It’s a rewarding job and it makes a real difference. I’m delighted to have made the change.”
When a family move brought Lucy Worthington to Kent, it also put a halt to her fledgling nursing career.
“We moved here from Milton Keynes in 2006, just two years after I qualified as a nurse, but as there were no NHS jobs on offer at the time I had no choice but to leave the profession,” she explained.
Although she quickly began working as a personal assistant, Lucy always considered her nursing career to be “unfinished business” and was determined to return to it when the opportunity arose.
“I kept my hand in as much as I could,” she recalled. “As well as working as a PA in Ashford, I helped in a residential unit for children with learning difficulties and I cared for a lady with a head injury, but what I really wanted was a chance to get back full time to the job I loved.”
That chance came when, after working for six years as a night carer in a residential home, Lucy heard an advertisement for Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust’s return to practice recruitment campaign.
“It felt like now or never,” she said. “I knew I was not done with nursing and so I applied for a place on the course – and I’m really glad I did.”
The return to practice scheme, designed to encourage skilled staff back into nursing, involves working independently as a healthcare assistant (HCA) three days a week and spending the other two days either studying or working as a community nurse alongside a mentor.
“It is very similar to an apprenticeship, which is fantastic because it means you have a job at the same time as learning the skills you need. I found it a really positive experience,” Lucy said.
She joined the scheme in March 2015, working as an HCA alongside the adult community nursing team based in Trinity House, Ashford.
The team supports GP practices in Ashford and Charing and generally helps housebound patients with long-term conditions, dealing with wounds and pressure areas, as well as carrying out blood tests and insulin injections.
Lucy’s course at Canterbury Christ Church University started in September, which meant she had time to adjust to her new role before studying topics, such as medication management, moving and handling, basic life support, communication skills, accountability and team working.
With the course now completed, Lucy, now 42, is expecting to receive her NHS PIN number in April, when she will once again be a fully registered nurse.
“It will be a challenge to be out on my own, making all the decisions, but it is a challenge I am looking forward to and I feel very supported by the rest of the team,” she said.
“They have been very welcoming and they understand what I want to achieve by relaunching my nursing career. I really enjoy having contact with patients and I love feeling that I have made a difference.
“Community nursing is very different to the job I was doing back in 2006, when I was working in day surgery at Milton Keynes Hospital, and I like having a little more time to make sure I have done the best possible job for my patients.”
Lucy enjoyed the academic challenge of attending the university course but said it highlighted a need to be organised when juggling work, family and learning. She now wants to “give something back” by learning how to be a mentor to future return to practice candidates.
“The course has rekindled my old ambitions,” she said. “I’ve got my career back and now I want to make the most of the opportunities in front of me. I would recommend this course without a doubt to anyone who wants to get back to nursing.”
After using his nursing skills as the launchpad for a globe-hopping adventure, Phil Cole came back to the UK with an eye on retirement.
He returned from Australia with new wife Anita, settled in Folkestone and prepared to take it easy, but it proved to be a step too far.
Soon tired of his new life, Phil started to look for a new challenge – and found it via an NHS website.
“Retirement just didn’t suit me, and I was looking for part-time jobs when I spotted Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust’s return to practice programme and decided it was just what I needed,” said Phil, 57.
As a return to practice trainee, Phil has been working as a healthcare assistant (HCA) with the community care team based at Hersden, near Canterbury, for three days a week and spending the other two days either studying or working alongside his mentor Emma Betts.
With his final coursework now handed in to Canterbury Christ Church University, he is looking forward to stepping up to a full time community nursing role in April when he hopes to receive his coveted NHS PIN.
After training as a nurse in the late seventies at the Brook Hospital in Woolwich, working in intensive care, Phil used his nursing skills “as a ticket to see a bit of the world”, working in Germany and Saudi Arabia before spending a year back in England and then leaving for Sydney, Australia, in 1986.
In 1989, three years into a 10-year spell at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, Phil enrolled at the James Cook University in Queensland and emerged with a first class honours degree in history. A scholarship led to a doctorate and he stayed on as a full-time lecturer, allowing his nursing registration to lapse.
In 2000, another career change saw him working for the Australian government as a learning consultant in the taxation department before the move back to Folkestone in 2014 with his UK-born wife Anita.
As an HCA, Phil sees about 10 patients in an average day, helping them with dressings and injections and following the care plans laid out for them. The team covers the whole of the Greater Canterbury area.
“What I like is that people are so pleased to see me,” he said. “They appreciate what we do for them and it’s good to think that you have made a difference.
“Its hard work at times and it will get harder when I am out there as a nurse rather than as an HCA but I am really looking forward to the challenge. Nursing has changed over the years, with more of a focus on wellbeing and on health and safety.
“I certainly believe more thought goes into nursing now and I am proud that I will soon be playing a bigger part in the way the foundation trust cares for people in the community.”
Phil praised the support of his staff nurse mentor Emma, as well as the rest of the team. “I always know that my team leader is just a phone call away,” he said.
He also pointed out that the return to practice scheme made it easy for people who wanted to get back into nursing but who otherwise would not be able to afford to retrain, adding: “I certainly couldn’t have done this in Australia because of the costs involved.”
As well as being provided with a job as an HCA while training – and having their university course fees paid – the students at Christ Church each received a £500 bursary to help with books and other costs.
Life wasn’t all rosy for Sally Vivash when she took the plunge and returned to nursing after a 16-year absence, but the support of her “amazing” mentor Claire Dennis was certainly one of the positives.
“There were times when it was a real challenge juggling life as a student and parent, as well as working as a healthcare assistant (HCA) in a busy and at times under-staffed nursing team, but I’m glad I stuck at it despite the difficulties – and Claire really was fantastic,” said the 52-year-old.
All the students on the Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust’s return to practice (RTP) course are assigned a mentor to provide support throughout their course.
The returners work as an HCA for three days a week and spend one day working as a student nurse under supervision. The fifth day is spent at Canterbury Christ Church University one week and on private study the next.
One other positive aspect of the RTP scheme mentioned by Sally and her fellow students was the support they received while working hard to achieve re-registration. As well as being provided with a job while training – and having their university course fees paid – the students each received a £500 bursary to help with books and other costs, something they all welcomed.
“Not having to worry about the costs involved is a huge bonus when you are helping to support a family and retrain at the same time,” Sally said. “Most people simply would not be able to put themselves through the course independently, particularly without the guarantee of a job at the end of it.”
After being out of nursing for 16 years and working on a zero hours contract for a care agency, Sally rejoined the NHS in 2014, spending 30 hours a week as an HCA on a busy medical ward at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.
“I wanted to get back into the nursing environment but without the stress, which is why I became an HCA, but while at the QEQM I was offered the chance to take the RTP route into community nursing,” she explained. “I didn’t need asking twice.”
After working for seven months at the hospital, Sally moved to Birchington Medical Centre to join a team of community nurses looking after people in a wide area including Minster, Sarre, Cliffsend and Westgate – and she is delighted to have made the switch.
“RTP gives people like me a great opportunity to return to nursing because it is sponsored by the trust, you are given a position and the bursary is a bonus.
Sally’s advice to anyone thinking of following her example was straightforward. “Make sure you have thought it through and that you really want to do it – and don’t take on anything else at the same time – it takes real focus.”
That focus was helped by the broad range of knowledge her fellow students were happy to share. “One of the great things about getting together with the other people on the course was that they had such a huge amount of experience we could all benefit from,” she commented.
“The NHS needs that experience – and that’s why return to practice is such a good idea.”