The new six-week ‘Positive Steps’ taster programme gives job seekers an insight into the role of a Healthcare Assistant, improves employability skills – and guarantees them an interview for a permanent job after successful completion.

Positive Steps is collaboration between Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, JobCentre Plus and Buckinghamshire College Group.

54-year-old Mark Ferris was made redundant after 30 years in the IT industry, just as the COVID-19 pandemic started. He was one of the first Positive Steps graduates and is now employed full-time at Amersham Hospital .

Mark said:

I’d been thinking about a career change and looking after my elderly parents had made think about moving into care. On my placement I began looking after patients from the very first day, paired up with an experienced senior colleague on the morning care round. I was hooked immediately and loved every minute. There was lots of on job-the-job training and a great team spirit. I’m now in a position to make a real difference to people’s lives and feel really valued.

Listen to Mark talk about his Positive Steps experience

Rose Kennedy, Matron for Inpatients at Amersham Hospital, was keen not to lose Mark after the taster experience ended:

Healthcare Assistants need to be caring, compassionate and thrive as part of a team, so Mark fitted straight in to our BHT family. Positive Steps is open to people from all ages and backgrounds and there are no set entry requirements. We look forward to welcoming more people like Mark in 2022.

Positive Steps runs for six weeks, with each week including:

  • three days on a hospital ward, working with an experienced mentor to support patients with personal care, making beds, help with meals and other duties
  • one day a week at Buckinghamshire College Group’s Aylesbury campus studying for the BTEC Level 1 Introduction to Health and Social Care and undergoing the Building Futures employability and interviews skills programme
  • one day a week of self-study and reflection

The next Positive Steps programme starts on 28 February 2022, with more planned throughout the year. Candidates may get some financial help depending on their personal circumstance.

If you are unemployed and are interested in applying for Positive Steps, contact your work coach at your local JobCentre Plus or email

Find out more about becoming a Healthcare Assistant and see current vacancies at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust or email

Published on 7 Feb, 2022 (updated 28 Feb, 2022)

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