Royal Trinity Hospice is celebrating the success of a scheme supporting nurses to re-enter the profession after a career break. Since joining the return to practice programme two years ago, the hospice has supported eight nurses. Of these, six have chosen to stay at the hospice in permanent nursing roles, alleviating a national nursing shortage.

The return to practice programme is run in partnership with Kingston University and St George’s University of London. Return to practice nurses must complete theory and skills based sessions, a two stage assessment and a minimum of 150 hours of clinical practice over three months.

Nurses benefit from Trinity’s flexible working policy, support from senior nursing staff at the hospice, and an opportunity to learn at a gentler pace than in a hospital setting. Participation in the initiative has helped Trinity recruit more skilled and experienced nurses during a period of national nursing shortage.

Anne Smith, 56, Staff Nurse at Trinity, said, “I was out of nursing for thirty-two years. I left when I had children; nursing wasn’t as flexible back then. But when my daughter decided to train as a nurse, I saw her enjoyment and realised how much I missed it.

I thought I might be too old, but I am quite comfortable, even though I have a lot to learn. So much has changed, like the medicines and technology, but I feel happy to ask for help as everyone at Trinity is so supportive. On the second day of my placement I thought, “I want to work here. I love it” and I still do.”

Helen King, Clinical Educator at Trinity, said “Return to practice nurses bring fantastic communication skills, experience and networks from other healthcare settings and invaluable life experience which is so important when caring for people at the end of life. What’s more, those who stay after their placement can hit the ground running.

As a former return to practice nurse myself, it’s been so rewarding to support these new recruits to grow in confidence and competency. I hope more hospices consider return to practice nurses as part of their recruitment strategy.”

As well as offering return to practice placements, Trinity offers opportunities for student nurses and doctors to undertake placements at Trinity as part of their studies. There are also twelve month voluntary placements for trainee counsellors. You can see the full list of our vacancies here.