Nursing Opinion

A new era for social care nursing

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

Around this time last year, I was writing in Care Talk reflecting on the whirlwind first few months of the pandemic, celebrating the incredible contributions of everyone working across social care and exploring what more we can all do to build the profile of social care nursing.

Just over a year on and no doubt we’re still in the thick of things. We’re still adjusting as things continue to change but thankfully now there’s some light at the end of the tunnel, as more and more of us get our vaccinations.

Through it all, I’ve been inspired by the dedication and passion shown by our nurses and midwives through some truly harrowing times. During the pandemic, we’ve needed our nursing and midwifery professionals like never before. I’m so pleased to see nurses in social care receiving the recognition on a national scale they so fully deserve.

And the impact of your continued courage and dedication is clear, inspiring record numbers of students to apply to study nursing this year.

As the regulator, we have also been working hard throughout the pandemic to do everything we can to support our professionals working across health and social care to deliver safe, kind and effective care.

Last year I touched on that age-old topic – the perception that nurses working in social care are less skilled than those working in the NHS, which we all know is absolute rubbish.

A real concern though is that nurses working in social care often don’t have access to the same support or professional development opportunities that exist in the NHS. It’s imperative we all work together to ensure they have the right level of support to help them thrive and flourish and continue to make a difference in their local communities.

That’s why as a part of our review of post-registration standards, we’re looking at what we can do to enhance the opportunities for social care nurses to learn and develop and get the recognition their expertise merits.

Our new draft standards have proposed the addition of one more Specialist Practice Qualification (SPQ) in community nursing which won’t specify a field of practice and will aim to provide a dedicated qualification for those working in community nursing roles in social care. By the time you’re reading this, we should have launched our formal public consultation, so please do visit our website to get involved.

We are keen to make sure any changes to our post-registration standards reflect the needs of everyone involved in providing or receiving care in the community – so whether you’re a nursing professional, care worker, care home manager or someone who receives care, please share your thoughts with us.  It really does matter!

This has been a tough year and social care has been in the eye of the storm.  You’ve faced uncertainty and change, distress and, I’m sure at times, despair.  But you’ve coped incredibly, providing care and support to people in the greatest need.  On behalf of everyone at the NMC, thank you.  We’re proud of you and will continue to do what we can to raise the profile of social care nursing and make sure you get the support you need to deliver the high quality, compassionate care everyone deserves.

 

 

 

 

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