A key target to recruit volunteers from the ranks of nursing to act as ambassadors and spread professional values looks set to be missed.
NHS England aimed to recruit 1,000 of these volunteers, known as Care Makers, by the end of 2013-14, but has only half that number with barely two months left before the deadline.
NHS Employers is running the Care Maker programme on behalf of NHS England. A spokesman told Nursing Times there were currently 560 Care Makers, either confirmed or going through the approval process. Around 200 of these are understood to have joined the scheme since Christmas.
Care Makers are nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants intended to act as ambassadors for the values set out in the national nursing strategy Compassion in Practice, which includes the “6Cs” and was launched in the December 2012.
The aim was to capture the “spirit” of the London 2012 Olympics, which used volunteer Games Makers to help the event run smoothly.
The first cohort of 55 Care Makers were unveiled at the chief nursing officer for England’s conference in 2012, with the initiative officially announced a month later by the prime minister.
Initially aimed at inspiring student and newly qualified staff, the Care Maker programme was subsequently opened to staff at all levels after some experienced nurses questioned why they had been excluded from the scheme.
Karen Charman, director of engagement for NHS Employers, said: “The number of applications to join the Care Makers programme has been increasing significantly over the last few weeks.
“Around 200 have joined the programme in the last four to five weeks and we are making good progress in signing up 1,000 Care Makers by spring 2014.”
Ms Charman added: “Being a Care Maker is a fantastic opportunity to spread the Compassion in Practice message, network with colleagues from across the country and make a real difference to delivering high quality patient care.”
A further attempt to encourage volunteers to join the scheme was unveiled last week, when an internship programme for Care Makers interested in a research career was launched.
The Care Makers Research Internship Programme, which is open to a maximum seven Care Makers, will run between March and August.
Interns will carry out small piece of research in an area of their choice that is aligned to the Compassion in Practice programme. They will receive mentorship from an experienced researcher, participate in five training days and be given the opportunity to compete for the next stage of the Clinical Academic Pathway.
It is a joint initiative between NHS England and Health Education England. The closing date for applications is 20 February.
Visit the NHS Employers website if you are interested in the internship programme or wish to become a Care Maker.
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