Feb 20

How to create your own leaders for the future

Posted: 5 February 2020

Barbara-Johnson-250-x-250pxRisedale Care Homes, a levy-paying employer, is a nationwide network of retirement and nursing homes focussing on nursing, mental health nursing and residential care. They have 326 residents and 650 staff and use apprenticeships to upskill their current staff. In doing so they’ve found a sustainable solution to filling in their own workforce gaps.

We spoke to Barbara Johnson, Director of Nursing for 29 years, who talked about how apprenticeships have allowed the organisation to ‘create our own leaders for the future’ with 45 current members of staff going through higher level apprenticeships such as the Nursing Associate. She also highlights the importance of using the levy effectively to fill in workforce gaps without the need to recruit as the organisation currently has no shift leader or nurse vacancies.

How did you decide who could do an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships were introduced right across the board including Adult Care Worker (Level 2) and Lead Adult Care Worker (Level 3), Healthcare Assistant Practitioner (Level 5) and Registered Nurse Degree (Level 6). Each apprenticeship has their own interview criteria and were posted internally as we felt like it was only fair to offer the opportunities to existing staff first.

Have apprenticeships offered your staff opportunities?

We’ve become known for the career progression we offer and at the level we offer it, from level 2 all the way up to graduate level. A lot of the people on these courses wouldn’t have been able to access traditional routes to learning because they couldn’t afford not to work. We have amazing people in the organisation that will go onto become qualified nurses that just needed that chance. 

What challenges did you experience?

The biggest challenge was committing to providing backfill staff to support the apprenticeship time spent out of the workplace which can be scary. My advice would be ‘speculate to accumulate’, take the plunge, use the levy wisely and you can make it work.

Has it been a good investment?

It’s an investment that’s necessary to secure the quality of people and therefore care delivery for the future. This way we get to choose our own managers and nurses who know and understand the organisation instead of having to wait for staff coming from university.

What advice would you offer other employers?

Spend time researching funding. I’ll help and advise anyone who can’t find their way through it. I’d also suggest spending time finding the right learning provider that tailors their programmes to suit you and your organisation.


Risedale is an example of an organisation creating highly qualified leaders to ensure a high quality of care. To learn more about how apprenticeships can deliver positive care outcomes within your service visit our apprenticeship section. You can also visit our National Apprenticeship Week 2020 page to hear more inspiring stories.