Virgin Care, which holds a number of NHS community service contacts, is to start offering foundation degrees to its health and social care teams across England via a new partnership with a university.
The Professional Development (Health and Social Care) Foundation Degree will be a work-based course designed for clinical support staff and care assistants “aspiring” to become assistant practitioners, said the independent provider.
“This qualification can be the first step on a career in health and social care”
Virgin Care’s training arm will begin delivering the course to its existing health and social care teams this year, after being accredited by Derby University, which developed the higher apprenticeship.
The first cohort will study from Virgin Care’s education base in Farnham, Surrey, with a second group planned for the South West later this year.
Virgin Care is due to begin delivering a new contract to integrate health and social care services in Bath and North East Somerset in April and already delivers children’s services in Wiltshire and across Devon, meaning a large number of the company’s 7,000 colleagues are based in the South West.
Stuart Rennison-Price, director of people and service at Virgin Care, said: “This qualification can be the first step on a career in health and social care which can lead to colleagues qualifying as registered professionals, helping to fill a skills gap we’ve identified in the workforce and allow our colleagues the chance to achieve their full potential.
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“We are delighted to have been able to partner with the University of Derby to deliver this innovative course, and ultimately to improve the care and service we provide for the communities we serve across England,” he said.
Dr Paula Holt, dean of the College of Health and Social Care at the University of Derby, said: “We are extremely pleased to have developed this qualification, which will give health and social care workers in England the education, skills and competence needed in order to pursue a career as an assistant practitioner.
“We look forward to seeing clinical support staff and care assistants from across the sector taking up this innovative course and achieving their full potential,” she added.