The Belfast Trust is the largest integrated HSC Trust in the UK, delivering care to a population of 340,000 across the city. It provides the majority of regional specialist services across NI, including the Regional Trauma Centre, and has an annual budget of £1.3billion and a workforce of 22,000 staff.
The Belfast Trust came into existence on 1 April 2007, aiming to be one of the top NHS Trusts in health and safety and providing compassionate care. The purpose of the organisation is to improve health and wellbeing, and reduce health and social inequalities. Its vision is to continuously improve health and social care delivery and foster innovation in pursuit of this goal.
What Belfast Health and Social Care Trust did
BHSCT is committed to establishing meaningful and sustainable employment within Mental Health and, in 2017, the Trust agreed to extend the scope of the positive action programme to include Learning Disability. Patient & Client Support Services (PCSS) committed to support this and an Employability Programme was developed.
In September 2018 ten Trainees started on a 14 week Employability programme which, on successful completion, would lead to permanent posts. The programme is based around the core PCSS induction, covering topics such as food hygiene, waste management, infection control, and moving and handling. Belfast Metropolitan College (BMC) was pivotal in the delivery of the programme as the trainees were registered as students with BMC, and alternated between a classroom and a placement week on the Royal Hospital site.
Strong partnership working, with a number of organisations including Mencap, NOW, Orchardville, Disability Action, USEL and NIUSE, was essential for this programme to succeed. Learning Disability awareness training was delivered, by Mencap, to supervisors and staff in PCSS who ‘buddied’ with the trainees.
Throughout the programme there was continual assessment and feedback focussing on retention of information, practical tasks, work skills, punctuality and presentation for work, supported by PCSS staff and an Employment Officer. Towards the end of the programme trainees were asked to complete a preference form regarding preferred work area, preferences were matched with vacant posts and appropriate job offers made, commencing work in January 2019.
Impacts and Outcomes
- 9 out of 10 trainees – previously unemployed or never employed – have been offered permanent pensionable positions within the Trust
- Staff with significant mental health issues have progressed within the workforce or have completed further training within social work and nursing
- Recruitment practices have changed
- The Trust is working to broaden the programme to include other employers and establish it as part of the BMC annual programme
- Other local Trusts and Councils have expressed interest in the model and the Project Leads have working to encourage those employers to develop similar programmes