Two Somerset nurses are leading the way as pioneers for a new project that aims to highlight the opportunities available to the nursing workforce in the county.
The Integration Pioneer Programme is a collaborative scheme set up by Musgrove Park Hospital, Yeovil Hospital and Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
It gives nurses from the district general hospitals the chance to spend six months at one of Somerset Partnership’s 13 community hospitals to experience care in a new setting and to broaden their skills and knowledge.
It’s also a chance for the nurses to share their skills and learn best practice from each organisation.
And the first pioneers are already on their way.
Krissy Renshaw, junior sister on Dunkery Ward at Musgrove and Penny Earl, deputy sister on Triscombe Ward at Musgrove are now halfway through their six month secondment.
Krissy, who has been working on Bridgwater Hospital’s Waverley Ward said: “The Integration Pioneer Programme is a great way to get involved in something and try it out before committing to it. It’s a great start in working more collaboratively and I have already learnt so much coming to Somerset Partnership and I can’t wait to bring this back and share with my colleagues at Musgrove.
“Likewise, I think I’ve also shared some good practice from Musgrove. It has really built up my confidence and I feel like I now have the confidence to challenge and question things and to make decisions.”
Penny, who has been working at Minehead Community Hospital, added: “Although I live near Minehead, it wasn’t until I came to work here that I really appreciated the services the community hospitals provide and I have been very impressed with the facilities in Minehead.
“I’ve learnt a lot and I’ve also been sharing my knowledge and helping to train some of the nurses in their clinical skills. It’s been really interesting so far and it makes you think really hard about your practice.
“I think there’s a real perception that it’s easy to come and work at a community hospital but you have to be completely autonomous because you’re making all of the decisions. I wanted to be a part of this to help shift those perceptions so I can encourage more people to come and try this. I can’t praise this opportunity enough, it’s been really enjoyable and I think going forward it’s very important for closer working between health and social care in Somerset.”
As part of the secondment, the nurses also have the chance to take developmental training.
Nicola Maher, matron at Minehead Community Hospital, is supporting the pioneers and their development.
She said: “For me it’s really about raising awareness of the opportunities and roles across each of the trusts. If you can do it in the community, you can do it at Musgrove or Yeovil and vice versa.”
Alison Wootton, deputy chief nurse and director of patient care across Musgrove Park and Somerset Partnership said: “This is a really important opportunity for Somerset’s health system to work collaboratively together.
“Not only does it give our nurses the chance to broaden their skills, but it is also important in making sure that across the three organisations we are providing the best care for our patients.
“Krissy and Penny have been doing a wonderful job so far and we can’t wait to support other nurses interested in taking part.”