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Apprenticeships Creating New Nurses at Livewell Southwest

by | 9th May 2024 | News

International Nurses Day is celebrated on 12 May each year to coincide with the birthday of Florence Nightingale. It presents an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable difference that is made by nurses across the world.

This will be the first International Nursing Day for many new nurses, including those who are forging a career via an apprenticeship route.

More than one hundred people at Livewell Southwest have received full funding to complete a two-year student nursing associate apprenticeship programme, which has supported many to progress from Health Care Support Workers to Registered Nursing Associates.

Pictured: Dawn Slater, Director of People and Professionalism – copyright owned by Livewell Southwest

Dawn Slater, Director of People & Professionalism, said: “The Student Nursing Associates Apprenticeship Programme is an excellent opportunity for colleagues to attain a nursing degree through a fully funded pathway and offers Livewell Southwest an opportunity to tackle recruitment challenges by attracting new talent, upskilling and retaining current staff, and supports the increasing demand for health and social care.

“Our goal for the future is to continue to build on the success of the Student Nursing Associate Apprenticeship role by enrolling students on to the programme each year.”

Kirsty, Tracy and Sophie from Livewell Southwest are at different stages of their nursing journey and have shared their experience of pursuing their ambitions to become nurses.

Pictured: Kirsty Taylor, Registered Nursing Associate – copyright owned by Livewell Southwest

Kirsty Taylor

Kirsty recently qualified as a registered nursing associate, within Livewell’s East District Nursing team, following her completion of the Student Nursing Associate Apprenticeship programme in February 2024, and is working towards obtaining her registered nurse qualification.

Being a single mum; It was not possible for Kirsty to have given up her full-time job and salary to return to study in university. The Student Nursing Associate Programme allowed Kirsty to pursue her dreams of becoming a Nursing Associate by removing financial barriers and supporting her to attend University during her working hours.

Kirsty had this to say about her journey: “To be able to have my degree fully funded was an amazing opportunity for me. I have an eleven-year-old child to support, so it allowed me to pay my bills, do my degree, be a Registered Nursing Associate and leave debt free which was an amazing achievement.

“I wanted to show my son that hard work can lead you to great things and that any education, at any age, is a good education.

“I was a Health Care Assistant for seventeen years. I worked in nursing homes and agencies before starting with Livewell gaining experience in all different social fields, mental health, older people and learning disabilities.

“Once it was completed and I got my nursing PIN and registered on the Nursing Midwifery Council, I felt really proud of myself. All the hard work and challenging times paid off.

“When I started my degree, I also set myself a personal goal to complete the ARC 50 miler route which is down in Cornwall. I completed the 50 mile challenge the same week as I completed my degree.”

Watch this short video to find out how much of a difference Kirsty makes to the lives of service users in Plymouth:


Pictured: Tracy Woodham, Registered Nurse IHDT – copyright owned by Livewell Southwest

Tracy Woodham

Tracy is a Registered Nurse working as part of the Integrated Hospital Discharge team, supporting, and facilitating patient discharge from hospitals back into their homes.

Since completing the Student Nursing Associate Apprenticeship, Tracy has obtained her registered nurse qualification and is now able to carry out mental capacity assessments for her patients and acts as a patient advocate to ensure their voices are heard and their best interests are at the forefront of all decisions regarding their care.

Following her own success with the nursing associate programme, Tracy made the decision to become a student assessor for the programme, ensuring every student has the best possible experience and feels supported throughout their studies.

Tracy had this to say about her journey: “I started working in health care as an Auxiliary Nurse, in the learning disability sector in 1985.

“While working in the out-of-hours service, I met a nurse who recommended the pilot programme for Student Nursing Associates to me. I was unsure if I should apply for the programme as I was 50 years old and did not know if I had it in me to re-enter the world of academia, but I went to the interview and knew from then on, this was the right path for me.

“From this training programme, I went on to do the eighteen-month top up degree to obtain my registered nurse title and joined the Integrated Hospital Discharge team at Livewell.

“I am proud to still be in service and approaching my 39th year working in healthcare. I am keen to see people succeed and I hope to inspire others who like me, thought they were too old to be an apprentice and start again.”

Pictured: Sophie Doyne-Ditmas, Student Nursing Associate – copyright owned by Livewell Southwest

Sophie Doyne-Ditmas

Sophie is one of the newest recruits to join the Student Nursing Associate Apprenticeship Programme and aspires to become a registered nurse within Livewell’s CAMHS Eating Disorder Pathway, to support children, young people, and their families to recover from their eating disorder and change behaviours and thoughts towards food.

Sophie had this to say about her journey: “Living with tics means sometimes my hands will involuntarily shake and my body twitches. I always knew I wanted to work in health care and was worried that it would end my career before it had even begun.

“I had just turned eighteen, never applied for a job before or written a CV. I applied to university midwifery courses originally but did not get in and received conflicting feedback as to my strengths and weaknesses. I was stuck at a standstill and starting to feel disheartened. I could have gone to university to study adult nursing but that wasn’t what I truly wanted to do, and I didn’t want to be stuck with university fees for something I wasn’t 100% passionate about but thanks to Livewell recruiting directly from colleges, I met Tracy Jones, TNA Lead, who informed me about this programme.  

“I was on holiday in Cornwall, with my family, when I received the news that I had been accepted on to the programme. I was in disbelief that what was once a dream was now becoming a reality.

“Livewell have been a great support during my apprenticeship so far. I didn’t want to leave the young people in my service for four weeks at a time and was supported to make my placements five weeks instead of the usual four to allow me to spend one day a week with my team in CAMHS, enabling me to continue helping the young people in our service. 

By working together in partnership with the University of Plymouth, Plymouth Marjon University and Scott Medical and Healthcare College, Livewell are changing the way in which we tackle barriers to health and social careers and are committed to investing into the education and development of aspiring nursing associates, and the communities we serve.

For more information on careers with Livewell, please visit: