BLOG: National Apprenticeship Week 2023: Meet Rachel

National Apprenticeship Week 2023: Meet Rachel

This week (6-12 February) is National Apprenticeship Week. It is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of apprentices and the positive impact they make to communities, businesses, and the wider economy.

As an employer of choice, St Luke’s invests in developing people. We offer apprenticeships across the organisation to give individuals the opportunity to step into a career progressing role and develop their passion.

We wanted to share some stories from our current apprentices and celebrate them and their roles within St Luke’s.

Rachel Marriott, 43, has been one of our Health Care Assistants (HCA) working at our specialist unit at Turnchapel for the last few years. A mother of three, she has always had a passion for helping people at the end of their lives. She first became a HCA 17 years ago, before joining St Luke’s in 2019. She is currently finishing her two-year apprenticeship as a Trainee Nursing Associate (TNA) through Plymouth University.

In amongst her daily family life, Rachel spends one day a week at university for lectures and clinical skills, 12 hours a week at our specialist unit as a HCA and then 18 hours working in her trainee nursing role at both Turnchapel and on placements.

“I am supernumerary when working as a Trainee Nursing Associate,” she explains. “I have shadowed the nursing team to learn the roles of the nurses which consists of patient care, admissions and discharges, medications, continuing care, future care planning, working in teams, wound care and learning how to liaise with the multi-disciplinary team within St Luke’s. There are no two days the same, so every shift I work is a learning experience.”


With a background working in care homes, Rachel is no stranger to working in palliative care, even completing our Six Steps+ programme in end of life care in 2008, which she describes as igniting her passion for helping those living with a terminal illness. Working alongside our nurses on a daily basis gave Rachel a glimpse of what their roles are like and she knew it was something she wanted to be involved in.

“I have always enjoyed learning and used to watch the nurses eagerly when working alongside them as a HCA and felt that I wanted to further my knowledge and this apprenticeship seemed to fit perfectly for this. It would give me greater responsibility and keep my mind busy. My children are all grown up and it seemed the perfect time for me to better myself.”

Like with any further education course, Rachel has had to put in a great number of hours and hard work and has been truly dedicated to her learning, alongside her family life and role as HCA and at times has felt the pressure and encountered challenges, especially when moving between roles.

“I did not anticipate how hard the course was going to be,” she says. “12 modules divided between two years was a lot to do as well as working full time. It was hard to find the right balance. It has been a challenge changing my role when working as a TNA then working as a HCA. I want to constantly learn and work alongside the nurses, when working as a HCA you have to step back and not be as involved which I have found frustrating at times. I am very grateful to be at the end of this course and looking forward to starting my new role as a registered professional. I am lucky that within St Luke’s the TNA role is recognised and understood whereas some of my fellow cohort colleagues have struggled to help others understand their role.”


While challenging at times, Rachel’s passion for learning and being able to make a difference to patients when they really need it, has given her an incredible amount of satisfaction, both in a professional and personal capacity.

“I love working in a hospice. Being able to make a patient feel good about themselves, make them smile or give them the extra time and care they need. A good day for me is being able to understand the needs of the patients and working out what can be done to make that patient person centred and individual to their needs. This could be from helping them dress, assisting them to have a soak in the bath, washing their hair or just sitting and chatting to them.

“I want patients to feel comfortable and happy when in my care. I never underestimate how a patient feels, I just try to make them feel that bit more special and contented in any way that I can.

“I do get a lot of job satisfaction in my role. Friends and family ask how I do my job but I always turn around and say that I love my job. The hospice is not a depressing or morbid place to work, there is generally laughter heard and the nursing and HCA team all go above and beyond to leave any problems at the door and give their very best to the patients.

“The team is like a family, I have never seen such a closeness in any of my previous jobs. If you need help you ask and someone will always go the extra mile to help each other out.”

To find out more about our apprenticeships click here or contact our People Services department.

Look out for Lewis’ and Selina’s stories coming soon…