'Fund more training opportunities for adult social care nurses'

Nursing expert calls for nurses in adult social care to have similar training opportunities to nurses in NHS hospitals and other settings

Nurses providing NHS funded care in independent care homes are not receiving the training opportunities available to the rest of the health service, according to a nursing expert.

A report published yesterday (May 18) by the National Care Forum and Skills for Care raises concerns about how few nurses are choosing to work in adult social care in England. It recommends improvements to recruitment and retention.

The report says nursing students should be routinely offered placement opportunities in social care and clearer career pathways supported by education and training.

In response to the report, independent nurse adviser in the care of older people Lynne Phair said: ‘A nurse who is providing NHS funded care in care homes should be entitled to specialist training in exactly the same way as NHS funded training in hospitals.

‘We have a prejudice in this country because a registered nurse could be working for a private care home company providing NHS funded registered nursing care but not be entitled to NHS funded training.’

Ms Phair said the provision of publicly funded social care nurse training is variable and dependent on local clinical commissioning groups and local workforce planning.

She added that the Department of Health should be funding specific qualifications and courses for social care nurses through Skills for Health, to develop and reinforce their skills.

In England in 2014, there were 49,500 nurses working in adult social care. The report focuses on residential care, where some 85% of the nurses are employed.

The report says just over a third (34%) of nurses were estimated to have left their role in social care in the year up to April (approximately 16,800 leavers), while 36% of nurses (17,900) started their role in the last year.

The report recommends:

  • Developing advanced career roles for nurses in adult social care.
  • Considering making social care placements a compulsory part of the nursing degree and preceptorship.
  • Developing specialised postgraduate training in the care of older people.

Workforce expert Jim Buchan, of Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, said the report demonstrated that the sector is having to compete with the NHS for nurse recruitment during an overall nursing shortage.

He added: ‘Improving career paths and educational opportunities all make sense, but funding in the sector is tightening and commissioners will not be easily persuaded to loosen the purse strings.’

National Care Forum policy director and nurse Sharon Blackburn said: 'Adult social care provides numerous opportunities for nurses to work in a relational way to achieve outcomes that are meaningful to people using services. Nurses in adult social care are vital if people are to receive services tailored to their wishes and needs. Their contribution is essential in supporting the NHS to deliver an integrated service.'

Further information

National Care Forum and Skills for Health report - Stimulating debate on the distinctive contribution of nurses to adult social care