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Overwhelmed and undervalued


Social care nurses cannot be thanked enough on International Nurses Day



Chief adult social care nurse Deborah Sturdy celebrates the sector and the investment to support social care and NHS nurses for International Nurses Day today (12 May).

Nurses are the foundation of our health and care system.

It’s a complex profession, one which requires the right balance of skills, knowledge and expertise but also qualities like compassion and empathy and on International Nurses Day I want to celebrate nursing across the social care sector.

As the first chief nurse for adult social care, I am honoured to represent the 34,000 brilliant nurses – including nurses from overseas and hundreds of thousands of professional care workers who make up a critical part of our workforce.

This year’s theme for International Nurses Day is investment and for me that means investment in the profession, which is crucial to boosting workforce recruitment and retention. It would be remiss to not mention the founder of modern nursing, whose birthday we celebrate this day. Florence Nightingale said, ‘Let us never consider ourselves finished. We must be learning all of our lives’ and I firmly believe in this.

The Government recognises the importance of continued professional development (CPD) too. In April, the health and social care levy came into effect, which will help tackle the Covid backlog and reform the adult social care system, as promised in the People at the Heart of Care white paper. This includes £500m to develop the social care workforce through training opportunities.

Registered nurses, nursing associates and other allied health professionals will have access to training so they can continue their professional learning which will ensure we keep delivering outstanding care. For the wider social care workforce, training will be recognised with a portable care certificate and new skills passport.

Funding from the levy will also go towards improving access to health and wellbeing resources for staff, from talking therapies, to occupational health interventions.

Investing in ourselves is key and I hope these measures will ensure that everyone can benefit from more access to learning and support. Nursing is a demanding job and our wellbeing has to be a priority so we can continue to give the support through skilled professional care to those we look after and their families.

In the NHS there is also much to celebrate with a record number of nurses – over 314,800 – as of February 2022. It is positive to see the funding the government is putting towards recruitment and retention, supporting students on eligible nursing, midwifery and most allied health students with grants of £5,000 and investing £37million for staff mental health hubs.

We have an opportunity on International Nurses Day to share our stories about what we have done and what we have achieved individually and together. Sharing and learning together through the many nursing in social care forums, such as the QNI Care Home Nurses Network or Skills for Care Nurses group, will enable you to connect to your peers and meet likeminded nurses, and is a small investment of time in your development. You can sign up to the ‘We are Social Care Nurses’ newsletter to find out more.

One of my priorities when I came into the role was to recognise the extraordinary efforts of social care nurses and the wider workforce, which is why I set up the first ever Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care awards. To date, we have received over 90 silver and 170 gold nominations and I love reading the inspiring stories of award winners and the very great pleasure of visiting many services to give awards in person where possible. If you know a talented social care worker who goes above and beyond, do nominate them today.

Beyond today, I cannot thank nurses enough. Thank you for the incredible work that you have done throughout the pandemic and continue to do in caring for residents and those who need your leadership 365 days a year. Your leadership makes a real difference