A FORMER graphic designer decided to change careers after helping to care for her grandmother; and an apprenticeship is helping her progress in her new profession.

Rachel Phillips was made redundant from her job in graphic design and decided to think about what she might like to do next.

“I saw it as a chance to have a second career,” she explained, adding: “I took some time to think about it and I was supporting my mum to look after my grandmother when I thought ‘this is something that I would quite like to do’.”

Rachel began working at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital in 2017 and is a healthcare support worker in the Diagnostic and Treatment Centre’s surgical department. She is a member of the first cohort of staff at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to study for a Level 3 apprenticeship as a senior healthcare support worker on a programme run by the trust.

Hampshire Hospitals, which runs Basingstoke hospital, as well as hospitals in Winchester and Andover, recently became a training provider, meaning it can develop and deliver its own apprenticeships.

Apprentices follow a carefully designed programme facilitated by professionals from numerous areas within the trust and their education takes place in a variety of ways including simulations, learning from clinical specialists, online learning, attending classes and applying and embedding their knowledge on the wards.

Rachel said: “I had a super matron who said I could train to be a nurse. I was keen to bring my skillset up and she said, ‘why don’t you do the apprenticeship?’.”

The mother-of-three began studying in October last year and the course is set to take around 15 to 18 months to complete. It will allow her to move up to a senior position, supporting the nursing staff in a more clinical way, as well as enhancing her skills.

Rachel, from Beggarwood, is enjoying the apprenticeship, particularly the practical learning such as simulated real-life experiences, including dealing with patients who have had bad news or someone whose condition is quickly declining.

“It’s a new way of learning and I love it, it’s great,” she said.

The 48-year-old is glad she decided to change career, adding: “I wanted to be a nurse before going to university, but my qualifications weren’t good enough, so I discarded that idea.

“But I’ve now been put through my maths and I just passed Level 2, so I feel that I’m going somewhere.”