Apprenticeships at Brighton

Journey from nurse to innovator, creating an app for frailty care

While working as a nurse at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust’s Frailty Service, Amanda McAndrews was looking for a specialised module in prescribing. However, her research led her to the apprenticeship program for the Advanced Clinical Practitioner (ACP) masters degree at the University of Brighton. Amanda chose this route because it was a fully funded degree apprenticeship, and her employer supported her decision to pursue it. We caught up with Amanda to hear about her experience on the apprenticeship, and how she developed a patient education app, ‘Living Well for Longer’, to inform her patients on the important subject of frailty.

What was the most valuable thing about the course?

“I chose to complete the ACP apprenticeship, because it was very well-rounded, and gave me valuable insights into the culture of my employer organisation. I developed a comprehensive approach to my professional responsibilities through the course, as it equipped me with vital skills in business communication, especially regarding cost-saving discussions. The ability to articulate persuasive propositions is extremely valuable in my work.”

The apprenticeship programme includes a significant project which focusses on ‘leading a service improvement’, where Amanda learnt to fully develop a plan to innovate in the workplace. The project required expertise in project management and use of tools including a business case with SWOT analysis, consideration of influencing factors such as micro, meso and macro, PESTEL analysis and a thorough cost/benefit analysis. For her project, Amanda developed an idea that had been on her mind for some time.

Development of the frailty app

“Working in the Frailty Service, I was seeing patients every day, and found that they and their families were asking the same questions repeatedly. They were seeking information about frailty and how to recognise its signs. People often don’t realise how frail they are becoming and what their future care needs might be – and then they can find themselves in hospital, too frail to go home.”

Amanda discovered that there were numerous apps created for specific conditions, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma. However, she noticed a significant gap in information when it came to frailty and concluded there was opportunity to educate people more comprehensively around the topic.

“I realised that I could help people to self-manage frailty by enabling them to recognise signs they may be becoming frail. They can then start planning to employ the help of carers before the frailty triggers set in – for example falls, immobility and incontinence. Advanced care planning is often overlooked, and it is important to ask patients what their wishes are in the event they become unwell. So, I developed my idea for a mobile app through the ‘leading a service improvement’ project on my apprenticeship, which also covered RESPECT documents and palliative care.”

As the app idea was conceived for individuals over 65 and their families, it initially faced some scepticism about its usability among the target demographic. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people became more comfortable with being online and interacting with digital services.

Application for Queens Nurse

Upon completing her apprenticeship, Amanda applied for the honorary title of Queens Nurse, which recognises commitment to the community nursing profession. As part of her application, she was asked to address a question concerning a service improvement rooted in data and innovation, so was able to align this with her app idea.

“Once I had been awarded the Queens Nurse title, my employer asked about the innovation that I had put forward. They then encouraged me to apply for the Clinical Digital Innovation Programme, set up by Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust’s (SCFT) digital team, to support clinicians to implement digital solutions within their services. This resulted in an award of £15,000 over three years to develop the Living Well for Longer app, get it built, and into use!!”.

“Advanced clinical practice is really developing – it’s a very exciting time for us. As advanced practitioners, we can really influence in our roles, enabling us to confidently present research and make compelling cases when engaging with managers and senior staff.”

“Completing the apprenticeship has provided me with the understanding of the operational context and the ability to influence. It’s been really empowering to know how to present research and “speak the language” of the organisation. Graduating from the apprenticeship, we’ve transformed into disruptive innovators!”

Amanda McAndrews at graduation, far right.

Read Amanda’s Interview with Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust Here

Download the free mobile app: Sussex Community Foundation Trust – Living Well for Longer, from the Apple store or Android

Explore the University of Brighton’s apprenticeship programmes

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Elry Hunt-Green • 30/04/2024

Previous Post

Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar