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BCHC healthcare assistants to reap benefits of new skills centre

Healthcare assistant and patient at Moseley Hall Hospital

BCHC healthcare assistants are to reap the benefits of a new, state-of-the-art skills hub in a ground-breaking partnership between education, health and social care professionals.

The facility, at Solihull College's Blossomfield Campus, is designed to meet the future needs of the health and social care profession and will be used by community healthcare professionals, as well as students in further and higher education.

The facility has been launched as a new report (published 10 July, 2013) reveals a lack of minimum standards of training for healthcare assistants (HCAs) to equip them with the skills to work unsupervised.

The report details the findings of an independent review set up in the wake of the failures in care provision at Mid Staffordshire NHS  Foundation Trust. Its author, journalist Camilla Cavendish, recommends that HCAs should get at least two weeks' training to prepare them for providing basic care in hospitals, care homes and at home and should be required to earn a 'certificate of fundamental care'.

The qualification would link HCA training to registered nurse training, improving options for career progression.

Primarily supporting students through Oxford Brookes University's degree in health and social care, the new health and social care skills suite in Solihull will also provide a learning resource for students studying the BTEC in health and social care, apprentices and people taking access to education courses.

Health and social care skills suite at Solihull College

Responding to Francis Report recommendations for more 'patient-focussed' care, the facility offers a three-bedded clinical environment with sophisticated training dummies allowing learners and professionals to practise a range of procedures including colostomies, eye care, wound-dressing and catheterising. They even have the functionality to simulate a cardiac arrest (heart attack).

Teaching staff in the college's health and social care academy will also place a strong emphasis on students developing and improving their bedside manner and communication skills as part of a renewed and concerted focus on delivering compassionate, caring and committed nursing.

Heather Butler, general manager for adult community services at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust said: "The opening of this excellent new facility is a further positive step in supporting the development of the future healthcare workforce and driving up standards of care.

"We know that healthcare assistants have the skills, values and behaviours needed to provide the most personal and fundamental support to patients. The foundation degree offers the opportunity to hone those skills through work-based learning, which will now be provided in state-of-the-art facilities."

Liz Westcott, head of clinical healthcare at Oxford Brookes University said: "We are really proud of the partnership that has occurred between the local NHS trusts and the healthcare economy.

"The new suite is of great value to not only the students on the foundation degree in health and social care, but to the wider healthcare economy."
Heather Butler and Solihull College principal Brenda Sheils at the opening of the new health and social care skills suite.
Heather Butler (left) and Solihull College principal Brenda Sheils try out one of the new state-of-the-art training dummies at the opening of the new health and social care skills suite.