Fast-track training of temporary healthcare support workers to supplement hospital staff during the COVID-19 pandemic
evidence and practice    

Fast-track training of temporary healthcare support workers to supplement hospital staff during the COVID-19 pandemic

Rachel Magowan Healthcare Support Worker, Borders General Hospital, NHS Borders, Melrose, Scotland, and medical student, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland
Kim Smith Head of Clinical and Professional Development, NHS Borders, Melrose, Scotland

Why you should read this article:
  • To learn how a hospital in Scotland supplemented its support workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • To understand how staff from non-clinical backgrounds can be rapidly trained to care for older people in hospital

  • To acknowledge what can be achieved when appealing to local resources in a crisis

In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, which generated concerns that the NHS could be overwhelmed. The predicted increase in the number of patients requiring hospitalisation prompted the need to increase the number of clinical staff working on hospital wards, particularly healthcare support workers (HCSWs), who play a crucial role in addressing the care needs of older people.

This article describes how one health board in Scotland trained and redeployed volunteers among its staff to work as temporary HCSWs in its main hospital during the pandemic. A fast-track, one-day training course was delivered in March and April 2020 to 104 staff from various backgrounds – some non-clinical – by a team of volunteer trainers. Staffing during an emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, presents significant challenges, but the experience at NHS Borders shows that it is possible to develop a training course rapidly and provide additional band 2 staff to supplement the support workforce in a time of crisis.

Nursing Older People. doi: 10.7748/nop.2020.e1303

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

rachelmagowan@me.com

Conflict of interest

None declared

Magowan R, Smith K (2020) Fast-track training of temporary healthcare support workers to supplement hospital staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nursing Older People. doi: 10.7748/nop.2020.e1303

The authors, who are employed by NHS Borders, are grateful to the management for their support with the training course and to the trainees for volunteering and providing feedback

Published online: 23 December 2020

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