The contribution of registered nurses in care homes is so important now more than ever. Registered nurses in care homes with the right education, skills and competencies play a valuable role in supporting residents as well as their families and other care staff in; supporting physical and mental wellbeing; anticipating care needs; managing challenging behaviours; and supporting palliative and end of life care. Nurses in care homes are often an overlooked professional group and a forgotten workforce, with no defined career pathway and often lack access to continuous training and development.
So how can we make working in care homes an attractive career path and help address the recruitment struggle facing care homes? RCN would like to see action taken right across health and social care and from the very start of nurses’ education in our universities, to promote the benefits to nurses of working in care homes. It’s vital that we prepare the future nursing workforce with the necessary knowledge, understanding, clinical and practical skills to better equip nurses to respond to the changing demographics and increase in clinical needs. Ensuring effective clinical and supervisory frameworks are in place as well as, widening access to pre-registration education will be essential to ensuring a workforce that can deliver safe, effective care. It’s important that nurses working in care homes have favourable terms and conditions and pay and have equal opportunities as their NHS colleagues. Employers in every health and care setting across the UK must make continual professional development (CPD) available to nursing staff. Care home nurses have told us that they have valued opportunities to undertake joint education and training with nurses from the NHS and there are already good examples of where this is happening already but more needs to be done.
Registered nurses in care homes are key to the delivery of safe, high quality care and to supporting improved health and wellbeing outcomes for residents throughout Scotland. Given the predicted rise in the number of older people and the increasingly complex nature of the care and treatment they will need, Scotland needs to be planning now to educate enough nurses so we have a sustainable workforce fit for the future.