We started Virgin Care more than a decade ago with a simple purpose: to make a difference to people’s lives. Health and social care services are crucial to us all. They not only keep us fit and well throughout our lives, but early years services make a huge difference to how we go on to live our lives. But the barriers to improving life chances are complex and the solutions require collaboration across organisations, across sectors and between services and the communities they serve and bravery to focus on long term aims with careful investment of resources and a shared vision of the journey, not just the destination.
Through our services across the country, we pledge to do all that we can to encourage and improve social mobility. Through investing in our people, through investing in our services and through partnering with communities to invest in themselves. Never more than now, following the huge disruption brought about by COVID-19, has increasing social mobility, improving life chances and making a difference been more important.
This report is all about the progress we’ve made in just one small part of our service to do just that. It looks at what we’ve done, in partnership with the county council and Barnardo’s, to make a difference. We pledge to continue to work to support those who face barriers to social mobility to achieve their full potential – through our services, through employment and through education.
Dr Vivienne McVey
Chief Executive Officer, Virgin Care
Our Essex children and families community service model should be adopted by others in a post-pandemic world, report shows
Health and social care providers across the UK should consider our Essex ‘Civic Health Model’ as part of their post Covid-19 response to combat health inequality and help break barriers to social mobility, a new report states.
Virgin Care has joined businesses from across the UK in an initiative to help Britain and its most vulnerable citizens through the coronavirus crisis. It has teamed up with former Cabinet Minister, Rt Hon Justine Greening, as a founding member of the C-19 Business Pledge.
The ‘Civic Health Model’
Virgin Care has delivered a purposeful collaborative community approach to the delivery of healthcare services in Essex, focussed on outcomes which enable it to tailor the business to maximise its effectiveness and bringing together the skills of the organisations involved with, through volunteering, the community’s own skills.
The Social Mobility Pledge concludes that the Essex Model should be the standard across the health sector. A more sophisticated and holistic approach to health care, by promoting positive health habits and engaging with communities, is an effective method to tackling health inequalities, which is fundamental to tackling wider social inequalities. This is key to Levelling Up Health.
Charlie is 19. Having grown up in care, he felt confused and lacked purpose. He’d dropped out of school with no qualifications and was working as a forklift driver when he realised that he really wanted to work in medicine. He tried to get a job in nursing but didn’t want to go to college as he felt there would be too many distractions in a classroom environment.
His social worker, who’d known him for years, told him about a nursing course which was accessible online – his preferred pathway. All the learning was done online, including a maths GCSE equivalent which he’d previously failed. A mentoring system was in place where he was given small tasks to achieve which were then checked by his ‘buddy’. He’s now two months into an apprenticeship and is learning on the job, doing health visits and shadowing health professionals.
“Virgin Care looks after me really well and it’s getting me to where I want to be” he says. Charlie found that this system really suited him: “There’s so many different people around to help you out and there’s never a dull day. I love my job.”
He is on his way to getting into adult nursing as his final goal. He recognises that his teenage years were difficult and he failed in school as a result, so he’d also like to help other children facing similar challenges growing up in care.
Sylvia had worked as a teaching assistant for about nine years while her children were young.
She was well into her 30s when she qualified as an adult nurse, spending time with health visitors and school nurses, and ‘something clicked’. She was able to mesh her experience in schools and nursing together and became a school nurse. She was one of the first to undertake the specialist community public health nursing degree with Virgin Care.
Previously a lack of funding had meant that nurses couldn’t progress, but investment has since led to in-house training of health visitors and school nurses, thereby ‘growing their own talent’.
“It doesn’t matter where you fit in, there is opportunity there. I know there’s a career path for me.”
She feels that Virgin Care truly invested in her and, with her university fees and salary paid, she didn’t have to worry about anything financially but could concentrate on her studies and her job.