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Exclusive: ‘Social care nurses should be offered specialist training’

Exclusive: ‘Social care nurses should be offered specialist training’

Care home nurses should be offered more training and the opportunity to qualify as specialist practitioners like their nursing peers, to help attract more people to work in the sector, social care leaders have said.

At an online social care roundtable hosted by Nursing in Practice last week, the panel argued the NMC should take the opportunity to introduce a social care nursing specialist practitioner qualification (SPQ) with specific standards and an annotation on the register, as part of its new post-registration community nursing standards.

The call came as the panel also argued that social care has a ‘brand problem’ which needed to be fixed in order to attract more nurses to the sector.

QNI chief executive Dr Crystal Oldman told fellow panellists that adding a social care nursing SPQ would ‘raise the profile’ of social care nurses’, adding: ‘[If the NMC does not introduce the annotation], there’s an opportunity for all of us to come together and say, “I think you’ve got this wrong”.’

Also speaking at the roundtable, Louse Brady, clinical development lead at the Royal British Legion care homes, said: ‘We’ve got to have established, recognisable and recordable qualifications, as well as established career pathways with a portfolio of career options, to attract staff to the sector.’

And RCN national officer for independent health and social care Clare Jacobs said: ‘We should acknowledge the complexity and specialist care required in care home nursing and introduce a specialist element of the NMC register… We need specialist training for social care nurses.’

Currently, the NMC holds separate standards for SPQs in district nursing, general practice nursing, community learning disabilities nursing, community children’s nursing and community mental health nursing. This is noted as an annotation next to the name of a nurse on the register.

But draft proposals would introduce one set of standards, with universities expected to develop one programme meeting the standards but with different routes for each SPQ. The five existing SPQs would continue, while a new generic SPQ would cover other specialisms such as care home nursing.

Responding to the comments raised at the roundtable, Anne Trotter, NMC assistant director of education and standards, told Nursing in Practice: ‘We recently consulted widely on draft post-registration education standards.

‘They included a proposal for a new specialist practice qualification that would, for the first time, recognise the full variety of settings in which community nurses deliver highly-skilled care – including adult social care,’ she added.

‘We’re now carefully considering all the feedback that we received to that consultation to make sure the standards are as good as they can possibly be.’

The NMC post-registration standards consultation has closed and the NMC is now working to produce its new standards.

In August, the QNI warned the plans put patients at risk because they will lead to ‘unwarranted variation in course quality and content’ for specialist roles. And community children’s nurses raised similar concerns with Nursing in Practice in July.

The roundtable also saw attendees argue that care home placements for student nurses could boost recruitment to the sector and social care must fix its ‘brand problem’.

Also attending the roundtable was Liz Jones, policy director of the National Care Forum; Jana Harris, head of operations (care) at Hafod in Wales; Louis Holmes, policy officer at Care England; Simon Bottery, senior fellow in social care at the King’s Fund; George Coxon, care home owner and Nursing in Practice blogger; Mark Bird, RCN transformational lead for the independent health and social care sector;  Suzy Webster, care home network manager at Age Cymru; Swaran Rakhra, member support manager at Scottish Care;  and Margot Whittaker, director of nursing for Southern Healthcare Nursing Homes in Devon.

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