A new ‘welcome’ programme for internationally educated nurses joining the UK’s adult social care sector is to be launched by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
The move aims to better support overseas nurses upon their arrival to the UK, including through additional pastoral support, in an effort to improve staff experience and retention.
NMC assistant director of national and regional outreach Samantha Donohue announced that the regulator wanted to create a ‘Welcome to the UK Workforce’ programme for those going into social care settings during a roundtable hosted by the NMC and attended by Nursing in Practice last week.
Ms Donohue said it would aim to help prepare overseas nurses for the ‘cultural and professional differences’ of working in the UK.
The goal of this project was also to ‘turn the tanker’ on the disproportionate number of referrals of international educated nurses to fitness to practice panels, said Ms Donohue, and to reverse the trend of social care nurses ‘leaving the UK because of their negative experiences’.
The NMC is currently operating a similar welcome programme through a face-to-face scheme across different settings, and has recently run an inaugural online session specifically for preparing nurses for work in the UK.
Feedback from these sessions showed nurses from overseas felt their years of experience ‘were not understood or valued’ and that they were ‘not given the same learning opportunities as other colleagues’, said Ms Donohue.
‘Some people described, with some difficulty, toxic workplace cultures, with a couple of nurses saying they felt really traumatised and requested to move employers,’ she said.
Ms Donahue highlighted how the programme for social care nurses would also include specific content on raising concerns, including around issues such as quality of care or employee terms and conditions.
This comes shortly after a survey conducted by the National Guardian Office found that improvements to speaking up culture in the health services appeared to be losing pace.
Ms Donahue noted that since the social care sector does not have the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian system as in the NHS in England, specific social care infrastructures needed to be reflected in this programme.
Also speaking at the roundtable event, chief nurse for adult social care Professor Deborah Sturdy, said the welcome programme was ‘not just about showing our international colleagues how we do things, but learning from each other and gaining fresh perspectives on how we deliver the highest standards of care’.
‘We are better for the diversity in our workforce, and we should be open and supportive to overseas colleagues in their transition,’ she said.
‘That means providing the right preceptorship and support to give them every opportunity to develop and grow.’
The NMC roundtable event was held to support action on improving the experience of internationally educated nurses and celebrate the contributions they make within the adult social care sector.
The event was attended by representatives of Skills for Care, the Care Quality Commission, as well as leaders and professionals from across the social care sector.