Lack of nurse access to CPD is affecting older people’s care

Study says care home staff are being poorly prepared by nursing undergraduate courses.

Care home nurses need more training on personal care and dementia because they are being poorly prepared by nursing undergraduate courses, a study has concluded.

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Nurses in care homes struggle to access continuing professional development (CPD) due to a lack of cover staff, limited access to NHS courses and having to carry out courses in their own time, the research revealed.

Skills shortage

A panel of more than 350 care home nurses, managers, community healthcare professionals and nurse educators told researchers that undergraduate courses were not teaching nurses the skills for caring for older people in care.

Training on personal care, including nutrition, bowel and catheter care, dementia and long-term conditions was most urgently needed.

The call for training on personal care may have been prompted by recent research that found patients from care homes were commonly dehydrated on admission to hospital and were at greater risk of dying in hospital as a result.

Nursing experts were concerned that nurses and their colleagues felt personal care skills were lacking.

Training demand

Karen Spilsbury, chair in nursing research at the University of Leeds, who carried out the research, said that the high demand for training on personal care was ‘really surprising’, although more research was needed to understand why nurses felt they needed training on this fundamental area so urgently.

‘Care home nurses reported feeling isolated and this reinforces that there aren’t the opportunities there should be to access CPD,’ said Professor Spilsbury, who undertook the research as part of the RCN Foundation’s 2015 report Supporting Nursing in Care Homes.

‘It is a massive challenge,’ she said.

Care home nurses told researchers that CPD often had to be undertaken in their own, unpaid, time.

RCNi has launched a campaign, #1hour2empower, calling on employers to support nurses by giving them an hour a month in which to undertake CPD. 

Nursing concerns

The research, published online in Age and Ageing journal, adds to long-standing concerns that the nurses caring for the more than 400,000 residents in UK care homes are struggling to keep their skills updated.

Nicky Hayes, consultant nurse for older people at King’s College Hospital, London, said: ‘Personal care is absolutely fundamental to what nursing care is, and it is disappointing that nurses do not feel pre-registration training is preparing them for that.

‘This finding could be picking up on anxiety from care home nurses that they rarely get to deliver bedside care.

‘There is a responsibility for nursing home employers and education providers to ensure that the clinical skills of nursing are appropriately addressed.’ 

Further information

Sign up to the #1hour2empower campaign

Moves to improve access to training for care home nurses

Priorities for the professional development of registered nurses in nursing homes: a Delphi study

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