Opinion

Embracing the care home challenge

Staff who are reluctant to work in care homes are missing out, according to those forging rewarding careers, says Theresa Fyffe.
care home nursing

Staff who are reluctant to work in care homes are missing out, according to those forging rewarding careers, says Theresa Fyffe.

I thought I knew everything, I have discovered a whole new world. Working in a care home is challenging but so rewarding.

That was the confession of one care home manager, who moved to the sector three years ago after 28 years in the NHS. She was speaking at an event titled Independent and third sector care is NOT a fringe business, which was organised by the RCN Scotland Board at the RCN congress earlier this year.

Sector satisfaction

On the event panel were Scotlands chief nursing officer Fiona McQueen and Scottish Care chief executive Donald Macaskill. We heard numerous similar comments from the packed audience, many of them nurses in care homes. They expressed their passion for

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Staff who are reluctant to work in care homes are missing out, according to those forging rewarding careers, says Theresa Fyffe. 

‘I thought I knew everything, I have discovered a whole new world. Working in a care home is challenging but so rewarding.’

That was the confession of one care home manager, who moved to the sector three years ago after 28 years in the NHS. She was speaking at an event titled ‘Independent and third sector care is NOT a fringe business’, which was organised by the RCN Scotland Board at the RCN congress earlier this year.

Sector satisfaction

On the event panel were Scotland’s chief nursing officer Fiona McQueen and Scottish Care chief executive Donald Macaskill. We heard numerous similar comments from the packed audience, many of them nurses in care homes. They expressed their passion for working in the third and independent sectors, and spoke of the satisfaction to be gained there.

While these sentiments struck a chord with most at the event, they are not generally widely heard. Their comments deserve attention, however, because this workforce has growing importance for the future of health and social care provision.

Healthcare is increasingly being delivered outside of the NHS, and third and independent sector providers are a vital part of the integrated health and social care infrastructure.

Future integration

Integration in Scotland, which went live in April this year, has been designed to ensure that high-quality, person-centred care can be delivered at home or in a homely environment. Also, it is driven by local engagement – with the community, NHS and local authority staff, and with the third and independent sector organisations that are so critical to the delivery of care.

As integration moves forward it will be important to join the dots between all these different care providers and professionals. Decision makers and commissioners of care in the new integration authorities will need support to understand the scope and complexity of the healthcare provided outside the NHS, and the characteristics of the workforce required in those settings.

Care homes will, for example, be delivering new models of intermediate care, and commissioners will need to ensure they have the support and resources to do so.

Similarly to other parts of the UK, care homes in Scotland report difficulty in recruiting and retaining enough staff to meet demand. One in ten Scottish RCN members work outside the NHS – in home services, hospices and care homes, as well as social enterprises, charities and local authorities.

In 2014 there were 5,220 registered nurses employed in care homes for adults across Scotland (Scottish Social Services Council 2015). However, with people entering care homes at an older age and often with more than one long-term condition, the complexity and acuity of the required care is increasing.

Staff demand

For too long the care home sector has faced a barrage of negative attitudes that has deterred many nurses from seeking a career in the sector. As a result, care home providers are struggling to meet demand for registered nurses.

When Scottish Care surveyed its members in 2015, 60% reported they were finding recruitment more difficult than in the previous year (In the Front Line, 2015).

The ambition for the future must be to start considering care wherever it is provided and where it is needed. As champions of care, nurses must make it clear to decision makers that no matter where a person is, they are looked after by the right staff, with the right training and support.

As the care home manager’s confession attests, hospitals are not everything: a fulfilling and rewarding career is to be found in the third or independent sector.

 


About the author 

 

Theresa Fyffe is director of the RCN Scotland

 

 

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