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Decision to remove care home nurses is ‘symptomatic’ of wider problem

A care home has announced that it will remove registered nurse provision from 5 November as it has been unable to fill nursing vacancies, which it attributes to the national staff shortages.  

Leaders at South Lodge Care Home in Leicester said they had already been ‘heavily reliant’ on agency nurses prior to when Avery Healthcare Group acquired the home in May last year.  

Since the takeover, bosses said they had found it ‘increasingly difficult’ to ‘recruit nurses with sufficient experience’ and did not see the situation improving due to ‘national recruitment challenges’. 

As a result, the 106-bed care home will be remodeled as a residential home with nursing care no longer provided. The decision will affect 12 nursing care residents, and Avery says that it is working with those residents, their relatives, the Local Authorities, and the Local Care Commissioning Group to provide options and a process of reassessment, to help move residents to other care providers as required.

Mark Danis, Avery commercial director, told Nursing in Practice that the situation is ‘symptomatic of a national scenario’ and ‘not isolated to either Avery or South Lodge’. 

As for the root of the problem, he continued: ‘The focus should then shift to the cause, in the lack of government planning to ensure suitable staffing provision against a predictable need for a clear forecastable demographic shift.’  

Responding to the news of the latest care home to remove its registered nurses, Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, also attributed it to the nursing shortage being experienced across the country.

‘The UK is experiencing chronic nursing shortages and this is resulting in some nursing homes re-designating as residential care homes. The Department of Health and Social Care need to address the shortages of nursing in community settings,’ he said.

Professor Green further warned that if the nurse shortage is not addressed as a matter of urgency, ‘we will see more and more pressures on the NHS related to delayed discharge because there will not be appropriate community services available for people with high level needs’.

According to Care England, in the UK there are 405,000 people aged over 65 living in a care home (equal to 4% of the older population) and demand for care home places have been predicted to rise by up to 150% over the next 50 years.

Specific challenges related to nursing education and training in the care home, according to Care England, are that working in a care home can be viewed as unattractive and of low status compared to other nursing, the lack of funding to provide education for nursing staff above essential mandatory training, that training is often focused on the need to fulfil Care Quality Commission (CQC) requirements, rather than an ongoing commitment to nursing workforce development and the fear training will be compromised due to reduced fees for residents from local authorities.

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