To help recruit and retain staff, Farleigh Hospice used a creative approach to develop new roles and provide career progression.

This page takes around 5 minutes to read.

Project and outcomes


Project overview

Farleigh hospice was struggling to recruit to some roles following the pandemic, particularly in clinical and care. The average age of their workforce was older, which meant there were lots of staff approaching retirement in some areas but a limited number of people with the right skills and experience to replace them. The hospice decided a new approach was needed to recruit, train and retain staff.

Farleigh has adopted a ‘grow your own’ approach, creating new roles with associated competencies and training frameworks to enable staff to gain the required skills. These include:

  • Trainee clinical nurse specialist (CNS)
  • Trainee healthcare assistant (HCA)
  • Registered nurse ‘plus’ (RN+).

The hospice has also been creative about developing new roles to help fill skills gaps. For example, several CNSs had to shield during the pandemic. Although they couldn’t work directly with patients, they were able to provide invaluable virtual night support. This role has been developed and there are now seven ‘virtual CNS’ posts, working as part of the community teams. A Family support practitioner role has also been created to fill a gap in the social work aspect of the community teams.


This approach to recruitment has enabled the hospice to fill more vacancies and provide more seamless care and support to patients. The virtual CNS role in particular has been very successful – it is valued by staff and patients, and the virtual CNSs report feeling very much a part of the team (despite not being geographically located with the team).

Facilitators and advice


Key facilitators

Teams have been very good at thinking creatively and suggesting new approaches to recruitment.

New staff members are provided with support to help them settle into their role and make sure they have the required knowledge. Everyone is required to undergo an 8-day in-house training course on the principles of palliative care, which ensures that everyone has the same baseline. The education team provide enhanced training for specific roles, for example a more advanced course for CNSs has been developed.

Virtual CNSs are allocated to a community locality team and take part in daily meetings. They have monthly supervision and support sessions plus specific training for their learning needs.

Tips and advice


Be open to what might be possible and give it a try.