A new learning centre for nurses is the first of its kind in Wales.
The centre is based at the offices of the award-winning Pendine Park care organisation Hillbury House, in Wrexham.
It was officially opened by Wrexham AM Lesley Griffiths, who is also the Welsh Health Minister.
The aim of the centre is to provide personal and professional development for nurses and care practitioners.
The centre is within the offices of Smartcare, the training arm of Pendine Park, and is the first of its kind to be located within an independent sector care organisation.
The initiative was made possible by a partnership including the Royal College of Nursing, the Wales TUC and the Betsi Cadwaladr Trust.
Seed corn funding of £1,600 came from the Welsh Government via the Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF).
Pendine Proprietor Mario Kreft was an enthusiastic advocate of the collaboration. He said: “Our people are our most valuable asset.
“What we’re trying to do here is work with partners to ensure that Pendine people and others have the very best opportunity possible for their professional and personal development, and particularly for their learning.
“We are opening a centre here within our teaching care centre where any nurse will be able to make an appointment and come and use the facilities, use the internet, use the computers and all the other resources at their disposal.”
“I think what is often overlooked is the breadth of skill that nurses and care practitioners need when working in the independent centre.
“The independent sector in Wales provides as many beds as the NHS – it’s got over 12,000 beds for people registered with nurse in care.
“Anything that we can do to bring the nursing family together and get nurses from the independent sector working more with the NHS and vice versa is a good thing.”
“What’s available here is very much along the lines of what we’re doing in our care facilities where we provide learning hubs.
Elizabeth Rees, a Learning Representative with the RCN, said: “About a third of our members are in the independent sector so this is a very important step and we’re really delighted that it’s happening”
“Nurses and health care assistants give so much while they’re working, but you can’t keep giving and giving without enabling people to access learning.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Barbara Hale, who works as a development officer with the Wales TUC.
She said: “It’s not just about staff training. It’s about personal development as well, and supporting people if they have gaps in their skills, literacy, numeracy, computers. It’s all about supporting people really and giving them options.”
According to Lesley Griffiths, the WULF project was very dear to her.
She said: “As a staunch Trade Unionist, I know of the important role of Trade Union learning representatives. The issue of lifelong learning and upskilling is something very close to my heart.
“If we can ensure that our staff are up-skilled and are able to access learning in such a great environment as they are at this learning centre, the people that will benefit are the people are
“I hope that other organisations follow Mario’s lead on this – you don’t need a lot of space. With a little bit of funding you can make a big difference.”