“Out of adversity comes opportunity” or so the saying goes.
With so much uncertainty around the Social Care system and the much awaited Green Paper on Social Care, it is perhaps, a time in which the need for new solutions to old age problems has never been greater.
The pilots for new roles in care with Nurse Associates, and Nurse Apprenticeships along with the recently announced Nursing Midwifery Council agreement on supporting a register for the new hybrid of worker should be welcomed; we will see the first registrants of this pilot scheme on the Nurse Associate register in January 2019.
These new roles represent the increasing opportunities for those who work in the Social Care sector. The previous lack of opportunity to develop and progress has caused frustration and stagnation within the sector. The talents and skills which have been carefully honed and developed over time amongst Care Assistants can now be recognised. This new career path is to be celebrated. We are going to need all the hands we can get to support the ageing population and the need for care and support both in terms of Domicillary and Care Homes is set to grow.
We need to have some creative ideas about the next generation of workers and recruitment of young people into the Social Care world. We need to create a buzz around ‘care’ and what it offers, as a pathway, not only for the Registered Nurse, but for the thousands of fantastic Care and Support Workers who play a vital role in supporting older (and indeed) younger people.
The sector has been its own worst enemy, often apologising for what goes wrong, rather than celebrating and sharing what goes right. If we share the good then we challenge the perceived negativity and often unfair portrayal of the sector. We have to be our own advocates. The social media world in which we live, gives opportunity for sending positive and affirming messages about what we did well today. What was good, what we enjoyed, how we enabled someone to achieve something ostensibly small but a significant achievement to them. If every Care Worker and Registered Nurse working in Social Care in the UK wrote something positive about their day, imagine the impact, the strength in the message and the increased awareness in the national mind about positive, affirming experiences of Care Homes.
We need to look to the future and how we attract people to consider Care Homes as a positive career choice. In order to do this, we need to broaden our appeal and capitalise on thinking creatively about the skills which we could utilise. Transitioning from one career to another and offering people who retire from full time work to consider a part-time care role at a later stage in life, would be an example of how we fill roles within the sector. We should be thinking outside the box and considering other groups, such as the Armed Forces and those looking for new challenges in second careers.
There is the second year of funding of the Teaching Care Home programme in place. This work facilitated by the Foundation of Nursing Studies on behalf of Care England (funded by the Burdett Trust for Nurses) enables Care Homes to develop their learning and outreach to local communities, in order that they share best practice and strive to be a learning environment for all on an ongoing basis. Acknowledging what has been achieved by teams is important too. We should appreciate the many talents we have in the skilled and committed workforce. It has been an utter pleasure to watch one of the Care Assistants who was part of the Teaching Care Home pilots grow and flourish, rewarded by an invitation to Buckingham Palace last year to a garden party – celebrating the Health and Social Care workforce and all its myriad of talent. It is the unsung heroes who deserve to be centre stage and celebrated.
There has been a shift in the recognition of the immense and important work the sector does. In addition to Teaching Care Homes, the Royal College of Nursing has been developing work on Care Home Nursing and toolkits to support the profession and care workforce. The Queen’s Nursing Institute, has produced guidance on being a Care Home Registered Nurse, clearly setting out the complexity and challenging area of practice. Creating the profile of an exciting and positive career choice is key. Care Homes are an area of practice which is Nurse led and managed. This is so powerful, but we need to articulate it to ourselves and the wider nursing profession. There are many things to celebrate in Care Home Nursing and if we focus on the positive, we can create a confidence and belief for ourselves and others in what we do. The possibilities if we all play our part are not only challenging, but exciting too.