Editorial

The barriers to nursing home staff accessing continuing professional development

Nicky Hayes says the care sector, education providers and individual nurses need to work together to ensure nurses in nursing homes are fit for purpose

Nicky Hayes says the care sector, education providers and individual nurses need to work together to ensure nurses in nursing homes are fit for purpose

Audio editorial

A study on priorities for the professional development of registered nurses (RNs) in nursing homes published online in Age and Ageing has identified that staff shortages, lack of access to NHS courses and lack of paid study time are the main reasons why RNs do not access continuing professional development (CPD) activities. Specialist gerontological education for care home nurses was, however, seen as a means to ensure that care home nursing attracts the best people.

These findings raise a number of professional, educational and political issues, none of which are easy to resolve. But if nothing changes, as the authors conclude, nurses employed by nursing homes will not be fit for purpose, and a high quality care sector will remain merely an aspiration.

The report identified that RNs in nursing homes require a particular set of skills, knowledge competencies and experience to provide high-quality care. These include promoting dignity, personhood and well-being, ensuring resident safety and enhancing quality of life. These skills reflect a weighting towards the type of legal, safety and ethical judgements that the RN must make when planning and delivering care to a care home population, but this skill set is not exclusive to care home-based nurses. We all need to understand the underpinning fundamentals of frailty, health and well-being in old age, so that we can apply them to our different care settings. A revolution is needed in pre and post-registration education to ensure that we all have access to what we need to be fit for purpose.

Who pays?

Politically, the dirty but vital issue for resolution is who pays for professional development. Access to NHS courses may be cited by RNs as one of the barriers to CPD, but the NHS is not the only source of education or funding and it is time for the sector to broaden its outlook and expectations. The care sector, education providers and individual nurses need to work together to examine opportunities, pathways and priorities, and to start to generate solutions that will match the needs of the current and future workforce.


Nicky Hayes is the consultant editor of Nursing Older People, and a nurse consultant for older people at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

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