The new Swansea Bay Nursing and Midwifery Academy has been officially launched, paving the way for significant improvements in staff development and retention.
Swansea Bay’s Director of Nursing and Patient Experience, Gareth Howells, said the new academy built on the strong foundations of existing nurse training within Swansea Bay, but will take training opportunities to a new level.
He said: “It will not only support our nurses and midwives academically, but also help them increase their life skills and develop as individuals.
“Today’s launch is just the start, and we are keen for all our nurses and midwives to get involved.”
Key to the academy’s success will be easy access to free online training, making it much simpler for busy staff to fit continual professional development into their timetables. And it will also support preceptorship and revalidation processes.
The health board’s Deputy Director of Nursing, Hazel Powell, said the new academy will provide the training and support for nurses to make the most of their talents and expertise, and help attract and keep staff.
The academy comes hot on the heels of the launch of the purpose-built Nurse Education Training Suite at the health board’s Baglan HQ, which was officially opened in May, and is another tangible show of the health board’s commitment to nursing.
It is a key component of Swansea Bay’s Nursing and Midwifery Framework, which is now up and running. Career development and retention lies at the heart of the framework.
“The framework lays out what’s important to us,” said Hazel, who this summer was nominated as one of the NHS’ 75 most influential nurses in a Nursing Times article which marked the 75th anniversary of the NHS.
“As part of this, we want to invest and support our nurses and midwives and one way we will be doing this will be through our new Nursing and Midwifery Academy.”
The new academy is directly linked to the Florence Nightingale Foundation, which has been at the forefront of nurse development for nearly a century.
It builds on the success of the health board’s existing nurse training, but a key benefit of working in partnership with the Foundation will be access to a wealth of free online training and leadership development modules, as well as international networking and mentoring opportunities.
Hazel explained that the first step will be offering a development programme for the health board’s matrons, but as the academy develops nurses, midwives and HCSWs at all stages of their careers will be supported.
“We’re starting with a six month development programme for our matrons, based on the Chief Nursing Officer for Wales priorities, which is really exciting. It will give our matrons the opportunity to think about and develop their professional leadership with coaching from senior nurses. This will help us shape our leaders of the future.
“We’re also planning a ward manager’s programme which will start next spring, and we are looking at developing our clinical supervision and preceptorship support and programmes. We’re also keen to look at 'end of career' mentoring, with those senior, really experienced nurses who might want to reduce their hours but still want to be involved in supporting our emerging leaders through providing mentorship and coaching for the ward managers, matrons and heads of nursing of tomorrow.
“We want to invest in our nurses and midwives, making development opportunities easily available and relevant. Our nurses and midwives work really hard and it’s about providing that opportunity for them to develop and grow with us.
“It says in our strategy that we want to make Swansea Bay the place that the best nurses and midwives want to work in and learn and lead.
“And then I want them to stay. I want them to come because it’s a good place to work but then I want them to stay because it is a good place to work and we are providing excellent development opportunities that support careers to thrive and retains staff.”
The Academy will also bring the benefits of being part of the Florence Nightingale Foundation Academy (FNF) including:
• Developing leadership knowledge and skills through free unlimited access to exclusive FNF online modules (with a new module added every three months), contributing to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours. Current options are Co-consulting and Innovation. FNF Academy Members are also able to influence new module development.
• Influence policy and practice on global health challenges through thought leadership projects and FNF Subject Expert Groups.
• Celebrate our professions and the legacy of Florence Nightingale as a VIP with a guest at an annual Florence Nightingale Commemoration Service at Westminster Abbey, London.
• Promote the next generation of nurse and midwife leaders by annually nominating an aspiring leader to become an FNF Academy Fellow. Fellows will enjoy additional and exclusive specific networking and development opportunities.
• Collaborate with other nurse and midwife members globally through our exclusive online members area.
• Participate in global partnerships with organisations from different nations to facilitate shared learning and support of the global nursing and midwifery workforce.
Main picture caption: Swansea Bay Director of Nursing and Patient Experience, Gareth Howells and Deputy Director, Hazel Powell, with Rachel Morgan and Becky Thomas from the Florence Nightingale Fundation.