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  • 19 July 2022
  • 8 min read

How We’re Helping NHS Devon Retain Their Nursing Workforce

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    • Mat Martin
    • Richard Gill
  • 0
  • 1934
We're working with NHS Devon to help support and retain their Nurses and HCAs / HCSWs. Find out what we're doing and how successul it is.We're working with NHS Devon to help support and retain their Nurses and HCAs / HCSWs. Find out what we're doing and how successul it is.

We're very pleased to be working with NHS Devon to help retain their nursing workforce. Together, we're exploring whether a combination of career coaching and development can help HCAs / HCSWs and Registered Nurses 'stay' working for the NHS.

Since Spring 2022 we’ve been helping NHS Devon on a ground-breaking pilot to work out whether, through coaching, we can help the nursing workforce feel supported and stay in role.

The venture will run into the winter this year.

Week by week we are speaking with Registered Nurses and Healthcare Assistants to understand what keeps them motivated, and identify forward career pathways available to them, underpinned by wellbeing.

So far, the results are excellent.

Being on this coaching pilot makes me feel seen, understood and it makes me feel good.

We will track the 40 HCAs / HCSWs and Registered Nurses we are working with over 3, 6 and 12 months after our work finishes.

If they are still with their NHS employer after that time, we will consider it a retention result.

So far, so good: we received this from the NHS recently:

The feedback from the first career coaching cohort at the three month evaluation stage is very positive.

How Does It Work?

I should explain specifically how we are helping - how we help achieve better retention outcomes for NHS and independent organisations.

We offer 4 retention services - to cater for a range of needs and budgets. We call this area of our work The Academy.

Each service is built around our own proprietary CPD Certified 'Coaching Programme' we created for the UK nursing industry.

Our work with NHS Devon uses our highest impact service - Clinical Career Coaching (click to find out more).

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Insights & Recommendations Built Around The People Promise

We also compile anonymised insights and provide our own recommendations to help with future workforce planning.

This is in addition to the coaching sessions.

How it works is, after each programme has been completed (each cohort of RNs or HCSWs), we package insights together (anonymised) to help NHS Devon with workforce planning.

For NHS clients we decided to create this part of our work around how well they are fulfilling the commitments outlined in The People Promise and The People Plan.

Plus, in addition to the insights, we also offer our recommendations on where work could be carried out and how.

These recommendations are built upon solid foundations: we have a unique blend of expertise and skills from within the talent / nursing candidate attraction sphere, decades worth of nursing experience, 20+ years of general recruitment experience, and 14 years providing and sharing nursing career advice and guidance.

Putting The Staff First

With average turnover rates for nursing staff at a typical NHS Trust running at 12% our hope is to increase retention by making staff feel they belong and can grow and thrive within their role, and stay with NHS Devon.

Before, I had a vague development plan. In being able to speak to you every week, I have been able to put my thoughts into words and now have a plan for me!

Our vision is simple: if the nursing workforce is supported and heard and recognised, we will increase retention for NHS Devon, and others.

For the individuals, it is a chance to have their voice heard and be offered the opportunity to put themselves at the centre of their choices.

We show individuals how to navigate their own career path, and feel empowered to bring about change in their world.

It seems to be working on that score already - we are hearing it in our feedback: “Before, I had a vague development plan. In being able to speak to you every week, I have been able to put my thoughts into words and now have a plan for me!”

What Do You Think?

Ask questions, comment and like this article below! Share your thoughts, add your opinion in the comments below.


A Neutral Space Enables Participants To Be Anonymous And Open

Sometimes it is hard for participants to begin talking, especially if they are facing severe challenges or feel impeded.

As a neutral party we can create that safe space vital for conversations to unfold.

I have found it really beneficial to talk to someone that doesn't know me

It is important that coaching enables coachees to feel able to share freely for it to work.

As one of our participants has said recently, “I have found it really beneficial to talk to someone that doesn't know me”.

We use this neutral space and, combined with our expertise and background, create an environment where they can truly be heard and recognised.

So, How Are We Doing?

The impact on people’s lives and careers that we are making is already clear.

This HCA sent us the following message and we were so pleased (we do what we can to help provide career planning - from coaching to researching roles and finding potential schemes and roles):

yes, I got offered the Doctors Assistant job you sent me, which I accepted as I figured it was the best route!

And our conversations are revealing.

The positive impact it is having to be able talk to a Qualified Coach and fellow Registered Nurse, and find your voice and feel safe enough to share is clear.

We spoke each week about a number of things work related - having a work / life balance and a 5-year plan and how I am going to do that. We spoke about how I’m going to achieve all my goals. I’ve since started a maths course a couple of weeks back and I’ve also had conversations with my manger so I can hopefully start my Health and Social Care Level 3. Then [I plan] go on to nursing or even down the apprenticeship road.

A key focus for us is wellbeing.

Nurses and HCA / HCSWs are, by nature, caring and giving.

But often they forget to apply the same care to themselves.

Our Coach has also recently been certified as a Physical Intelligence coach - and freely imparts these skills and techniques too.

We remind them of the importance of physical and mental wellbeing and seek to ensure they are putting themselves first, and also to make sure the simple things are done regularly.

I carry a water bottle on to the ward with me and I have small healthy snacks that I make at home, for my 12 hour shift. I know I can’t judge others on their choices but I want to be a role model for others.

In order to prep for a twelve-hour shift I need a minimum of 8 hours sleep - so,  thank you for sharing ways to make that happen, particularly on night duty!

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Improving Patient Outcomes

Ultimately, of course, we are all focused on improving patient outcomes.

That can only happen if everyone feels supported and has energy.

It’s lovely to hear that our coaching is already helping to deliver better results on the wards.

I recognise that the energy I bring with me to my shift has a knock-on effect to everyone around me, including my patients.

But it would be wrong to say that there aren’t challenges.

We are all aware of the many obstacles that need to be overcome by the NHS in terms of workforce support.

And some older workforce participants face myriad other stressors and challenges in their workplace.

Trust in as an independent organisation, and in the coach as a person who can be confided in, is ever more critical for these coachees.

Why Coaching?

Coaching is something that is now reasonably common in the commercial world, and for executive levels of the workforce.

But our mission and vision is to bring these benefits to bear on those who need and deserve it most: those who are at the frontline.

So, for Nikki and the rest of us here at, we are extremely excited by the chance to bring our creation and make it available for UK Nurses and HCAs / HCSWs in and outside of the NHS and to have had it run successfully.

Soon after we spoke, I asked my Line Manager to sign me up for every course going! In discussions with you I realised that I needed to learn to slow down. My enthusiasm spoke about my passion to become a Nurse but I knew that I had to take it one step at a time and not be so demanding on myself!

We’d be really happy to talk to other NHS bodies and indeed private healthcare organisations who believe that recognising and retaining their Nurses and HCA / HCSWs is a chief organisational priority.

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About the author

I believe people should be able to choose to enjoy work. That is, choose an employer who reflects their values and provides them with a sustainable career.

    • Mat Martin
    • Richard Gill
  • 0
  • 1934

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