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Featured Apprentice Story


Maria Mallaband Care Group

Jo Stokes, Nursing Associate, is a part of the Clinical Quality Team, a mobile team which drops in to care homes across the group to undertake training and service improvement, Jo has been instrumental in the group’s front line Covid response. Jo joined the multi-disciplinary team responsible for setting up Covid units in suitable homes – which was in response to the NHS’s need for community-based care beds for Covid patients.

That work has including infection control audits, training staff in donning & doffing procedures. Jo has also completed competencies assessments, training on how essential hand washing is throughout the ongoing pandemic, this ensuring the homes are safe, and staff have the most up to date knowledge from a company and public health perspective. Jo liaises with the company pandemic response team when she identifies any gaps in knowledge and services that are vulnerable to infections.

Jo Stokes has just been awarded a distinction following a two-year Nursing Associate Apprenticeship with Maria Mallaband Care Group (MMCG). Having joined Maria Mallaband in 2012 as a care assistant she worked her way up and was part of their first Trainee Nursing Associate (TNA) cohort starting in 2019.

Undertaking the vast majority of her apprenticeship during the pandemic, every element has been impacted by Covid in some way, from her ability to get out to clinical placements, to the classroom-based elements of the course, undertaken for the most part virtually as Bradford University moved to a hybrid virtual/in-person approach. But while many other providers in the sector chose to halt their TNA programmes, MMCG opted to push forward – and Jo has in turn approached her learning with total commitment and enthusiasm – despite her ongoing treatment following a cancer diagnosis.

Being someone who will always seek out opportunities and solutions, Jo was able to continue many of her requisite placements within the group’s homes. And latterly as restrictions have eased, she was released to James Cook University Hospital to join the team in the children’s ward.

Working as part of the Clinical Quality Team, a mobile team which drops in to care homes across the group to undertake training and service improvement, she has also been instrumental in the group’s front line Covid response. Jo joined the multi-disciplinary team responsible for setting up Covid units in suitable homes – which was in response to the NHS’s need for community-based care beds for Covid patients.

That work has including infection control audits, training staff in donning & doffing procedures. Jo has also completed competencies assessments, training on how essential hand washing is throughout the ongoing pandemic, this ensuring the homes are safe, and staff have the most up to date knowledge from a company and public health perspective. Jo liaises with the company pandemic response team when she identifies any gaps in knowledge and services that are vulnerable to infections.

When she was asked to fill in for a senior manager at a meeting about the TNA apprenticeship programme with Health Education England (HEE), Local Authorities and other social care providers, Jo so impressed that HEE approached her afterwards to become a Nursing Associate Ambassador.

Jo's new role provides a wealth of opportunities for her, including representing the interests of Nursing Associates at national or local events, meetings, and conferences, as well as promoting the Nursing Associate role in schools and colleges to engage the younger generation with the health and social care sector.

It is vital work to inspire the next generation of nursing associates and nurses, especially important now, as the pressures of pandemic have seen many nurses choosing to leave, exacerbating existing shortages. In particular the health and social care industries are struggling to recruit qualified nurses at present, but as a passionate advocate of her vocation, Jo will play a role in reversing this trend, highlighting the numerous benefits of a career in nursing.

Through her own story, her engaging personality, and boundless passion for what she does, Jo is raising awareness and inspiring others to take up apprenticeship opportunities, helping populate the sector with more nursing-trained staff ready to build back better in a post pandemic world.

In addition to her ambassador role, Jo has also now been made a TNA Advisor, supporting new TNAs at MMCG. She also presents at a regular offsite induction for MMCG new starters, sharing her story to inspire them about the possibilities and progression apprenticeships within the group can offer them.

A true role model and inspiration to everyone she meets, she always goes above and beyond, and has done all this while undergoing cancer treatment. Jo will become an apprentice again next year, beginning the two-year nursing ‘top up’ apprenticeship to fulfil her lifelong dream of following in her late mother’s footsteps to qualify as a nurse.

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