Legacy mentoring

Legacy mentors are experienced nurses, or colleagues in other regulated professions, usually in late career, who provide coaching, mentoring and pastoral support to our NHS people who are at the start of their careers or who are newly appointed into the NHS.

They provide essential professional advice, education and guidance and pass on a ‘legacy’ to the next generation. They play a crucial role in supporting staff health and wellbeing and career progression.

Appointing legacy mentors ensures that we do not lose the valuable experience of colleagues in late career through retirement and provides a rewarding career opportunity which celebrates our experienced colleague’s contribution to the NHS.

With approximately a third of our NHS people currently in late career, legacy mentors can provide these colleagues an opportunity to extend their career while also supporting our NHS people at the start of their career to stay and stay well.

“The idea is that we can come back and share our knowledge and skills and all the things that we have learned over the years as nurses with the students coming through that are new to the programme.”
Eileen, Legacy nurse, Norfolk and Waveney

Guidance to help implement legacy mentoring

The following resources can be used and adapted to your organisation to support you in implementing legacy mentors:

In addition to these resources, below are some top tips to guide you when implementing legacy mentoring. These have been collated with help from the following organisations who have already implemented legacy mentors:

  • Norfolk & Waveney ICS
  • Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Oxfordshire & Berkshire West ICS

The resources have been reviewed by a Quality group with help from the following organisations:

  • Health Education England
  • Lincolnshire ICS
  • Somerset NHS Foundation Trust
  • Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust
  • Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust
  • Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust
  • Bedford, Luton & Milton Keynes ICS

Several organisations have already successfully implemented legacy mentoring, both at organisation and system level. Examples include Norfolk and Waveney ICS, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust

Top tips

  • Determine whether the roles will work across an organisation or within one or more organisations across your integrated care system (ICS). To ensure legacy mentoring is successful you will want to ensure you have developed the infrastructure to support this, and you will most likely need to introduce a lead role to implement/manage this. It will also be vital for you to have full engagement from senior leaders in the organisation implementing it to ensure it’s supported from all key stakeholders.
  • Consider what your main aims and vision are for your programme on legacy mentoring. You could engage and explore within your organisations what you expect the key aim and outcomes to be.
  • Consider what arrangements you can set in place to support your legacy mentors. Nottingham University Hospital gave their legacy mentors a day of protected time per week to work on their quality improvement project or imparting their knowledge to others. You may also want to arrange coaching/mentoring training for someone who has the right skillset and attitude and would make a great mentor for others.
  • Agree which professions you want the legacy mentors to cover. Is it nursing alone, or do you want the roles to cover for example midwives, AHPs, primary care nursing, nursing support staff or other staff groups? Consider if this will be a separate role, or part of an existing role in the organisation.
  • Think about what makes the role attractive and what type of person you are targeting for this role. You may want to set out the values or attributes that you want the person to have, for example demonstrating passion about their profession and being a role model to others. A key attribute might be active listening and encouraging innovation and for others to have a voice. Determine how you can ensure the role is deemed to be prestigious and is well-invested within the organisation. You may be able to allow them to attend conferences for example.
  • Understand your legacy mentor’s existing education and skills and identify any training or coaching development they may need your support with, such as mental health first aid training or coaching and mentoring training. The Open University offer free short courses on coaching and mentoring.
  • Consider how many hours you want your legacy mentors to work and if you able to be flexible on the hours. Colleagues in later career may be attracted to roles with fewer hours and shifts more in line with normal office times.

Induction top tips

  • Inducting your legacy mentors into your organisation will help them to feel welcomed and supported in their first few months and are clear on their role expectations. If you are appointing several legacy mentors at the same time, you could consider hosting a welcome event with some senior representatives from your organisation.
  • You may want to consider if your legacy mentor structure needs to include a detailed process where the mentor may identify specific issues/concerns and where they may need to go for further support if issues or concerns are raised with them.
  • Support your legacy mentors by providing a named contact within the organisation who will undertake their supervision and help identify key stakeholders they need to meet with. For example, senior members of the organisation to help with their understanding of the vision and other colleagues they will be in contact with on a regular basis.
  • Consider setting up legacy mentoring support forums or platforms. Some organisations have set up peer support networks, action learning sets or facilitate online forums for their legacy mentors to come together and share experiences and support one another.

Evaluation top tips

  • There are a variety of tools available to support you with evaluation. Examples of these could include a logic model or theory of change model.
  • Consider what your measures will be before you appoint your legacy mentor(s), so that you can undertake some baseline data analysis. This might be in the form of a survey of colleagues in early career to understand their current experience which you could repeat after your legacy mentors have been in post for some time, as well as tracking leaver rates for staff in their first year or two after joining.
  • Before you appoint your legacy mentors, capture a blend of quantitative and qualitative baseline data such as turnover, leaver rate (those leaving the NHS completely), sickness absence, vacancy rate, your staff survey/Pulse survey data, exit interview data alongside information provided through engagement with employees through a survey or focus group. Again, you could review the data again after a period of time once the legacy mentor has been in post for 6 months or more to identify any improvements. Whilst you may not be able to directly correlate any improvements to legacy mentoring, it will be rewarding to see any positive changes. Model Health will provide you with the key retention data as outlined above, ESR exit interviews are a good way to capture consistent exit data that you can report on, and staff survey data/Pulse survey data will provide you with staff satisfaction data.
  • NHS Employers have helpful guidance and links to resources and tools on their evaluating health and wellbeing programme, that you may help when evaluating legacy mentoring.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust supported their legacy mentors to undertake Quality Improvement projects and analysed the impact that these had.  Further information on this can be found contained in this article

Identify what your return on investment measures might be. See Norfolk and Waveney’s example of an evaluation they took to understand the impact of the roles.