Brand new Health & Social Care Cadets at Furness College

The very first health and social care cadets in Furness have been finding out what hospital ward work is all about.

They have been taking part in a placement at Furness General Hospital, working alongside (and supervised by) experienced ward staff in general patient care. Between them the cadets have been working in a variety of wards – among them trauma orthopaedics, medical, surgical, outpatients, day surgery, gynaecological and elective orthopaedics. Each week they spend three days on placement and two in college.

The 15 cadets, who all left schools in Barrow, Dalton, Walney, Millom and West Lakes to gain a place on the heavily over-subscribed course. The teenagers had to take part in a full day’s tough assessment and interviews from professionals from three of the partnership organisations: Furness College, NHS Cumbria (the county’s teaching primary care trust) and the hospital itself.

The cadets are being overseen by health and social care cadet co-ordinator Ann Brown, also Curriculum Manager in the subject at Furness College. Ann said: “It’s the first time we have run this course here in Furness. The philosophy behind it is to give 16 to 18-year-olds an introduction to work in the NHS. The idea is they will get a flavour of what it’s like to work in the NHS and give them an indication of their future career. This placement at Furness General hospital is their first.¬† The ward staff have made it a good experience for the cadets and have been more than welcoming and very supportive.”

All of the cadets agree that one of the best things about their learning experience is that: “Ward staff have been treating us like one of them. They are all friendly and welcoming.”

Jade McCowen said: “No-one’s going to get this experience at this age anywhere else.” And Cheri Johnston said: “It’s giving me a wider view into the NHS facilities, to see what job I would like, to see whether I would like to do it, and it gives me experience.” Laura¬† Wilson added: “We’ve been learning how to wash people, feeding them, making beds. It’s rewarding, and better than just going to college for two years. You can do hands on things and some people are tactile learners so it’s good for them.” Shannon Hughes said: “This experience is helping me to understand patients’ and families’ needs and to empathise,” while Stacey Maguire added: “It’s a lot harder work than I thought, but it’s a great experience. We chose this – we like to help patients and to care for them.”

The course has been built on the success of one already running in the Lancaster area by Morecambe Bay NHS Trust at Royal Lancaster Infirmary, the primary care trust and social services. Following their hospital placement the cadets will be given placements with NHS Cumbria in GP practices and with district nurses. Other placements could include Age Concern, mental health, non clinical and specialisms. The course leads in the first year to an NVQ 2 and in the second year to an NVQ 3.

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