Role of care home nursing championed in pilots

A set of reports examining pilots into the role of care home nursing has been published. They aim to improve the image of the sector and dispell myths.

The expert role of nurses in care homes is recognised in a set of reports that aim to champion and empower the sector.

Undergraduate nursing students are learning how it feels to be a care home resident as part of the
year-long pilot by Care England
Picture: Charles Milligan

The Teaching Care Home pilot, led by Care England, examined nurse-led care at five sites across the country.

It set out to improve the learning environment for care home nurses and care outcomes, and demonstrate a model for a sustainable workforce.

Changing perceptions

The year-long project also aimed to improve the image of nursing in care homes to undergraduate nursing students, changing perceptions, for example, around low levels of innovation.

Director of health and wellbeing at Royal Hospital Chelsea Deborah Sturdy was involved in the pilot and associated reports, Teaching Care Home Impact Reports. 

She said nurses in the pilots received training largely through existing funding.

Professor Sturdy said: ‘It has been fantastic to have the voices of nurses in a sector that’s often much maligned and poorly represented in terms of educational opportunity, because they don’t have access to Health Education England funding.

‘To see people have some opportunity to do some learning and take it back to their colleagues has been wonderful.’

Improve nutrition

Pilots included looking at areas including how to improve nutrition in care homes to reduce hospital admissions. This pilot at Chester Court care home in Northumberland looked a meal times, types of tablecloth and the heat of food served and found improved weight gain among residents.

Another pilot site at Berwick Grange in Harrogate looked at recruitment issues and put in place a bespoke tutor to help care workers, who were overseas registered nurses, to pass their language tests to be registered in the UK. The tutor also was flexible to accommodate those on night shifts.

A separate pilot at Rose Court Care Home in Manchester asked staff to do reflective practice with the aim of improving learning, skills and confidence.

In one of the five reports, one nurse describes how she chose to work in social care and did not end up there as ‘last resort’.

Specialist skills

Unit care manager at Jewish Care, which runs Lady Sarah Cohen House in London, Mary Rabbitte talks of the skills nurses like herself use in caring for patients with dementia.

‘Things change on a daily basis, such as a person’s responses. But when someone starts to deteriorate rapidly, the skills that come from years of practice of recognising subtle changes in an individual’s behaviour, response or demeanour come to the forefront,’ she writes.

Professor Sturdy said continued funding had been sought to support two further pilot sites and provide opportunity for more care home nurses to receive training opportunities.

Commenting on the first pilots, Care England chief executive Martin Green said: ‘These pilots demonstrate that the care sector is a crucial part of the health and social care landscape.’

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