The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has announced it will be working with one of the UK’s largest care home operators to provide ‘lifelong learning’ for nursing staff.
The ‘learning agreement’ with Caring Home Groups signed yesterday (31 July) will provide a framework for the ongoing training and development for employed and agency staff.
Staff at Caring Home services across the UK will have the chance to become RCN learning representatives and play a ‘crucial role’ in promoting learning with 14 recruited so far, the RCN says.
Caring Homes Group has more than 5,700 employees including 630 nurses and nursing support workers, and is the parent company for nursing care home provider Caring Homes and Consensus, which provides support and accommodation for people with learning disabilities and additional complex needs.
Irene Murray, national officer at the RCN, said the social care sector previously did not have ‘enough’ RCN representatives, but the national agreement will provide better access for staff to services such as career development and well-being support.
She said: ‘This agreement gives us the chance to really support our members in the social care sector and make sure we have a base of representatives in place. This agreement means our learning reps know what to expect and formalises that relationship so they can work in partnership with their employer, sitting on relevant groups or committees.
The RCN can offer learning representatives access to a ‘wealth of resources to help support training and development in their workplace’ through the learning agreement, she said.
Liz Wallis, director of learning and organisational development at Caring Homes Group, said the learning agreement represented a ‘quality measure’ for the providers.
She continued: ‘It’s a stamp of quality not just for our nurses and healthcare assistants, but also for the families and individuals we care for and support, because it shows we provide a high-quality service, and invest in the standard of our skilled colleagues.’
The national agreement is the second of its kind signed by the RCN after it signed a learning agreement with home care provider Interserve Healthcare in 2018.
The vacancy rate in for nurses in adult social care is 12.3%, according to the latest figures from 2017/18, while Skills for Care estimated that around a third of nurses left their role over the same period.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to ‘fix the crisis’ in social care ‘once and for all’ in his first speech in the job last month.