In the October 2018 issue of Care Talk, Professor Deborah Sturdy OBE, shared her ideas for attracting the next generation of care workers.
Deborah acknowledges the emerging career pathway that new opportunities such as nurse associates and nursing apprenticeships offer, but also highlights that much work needs to be done if we are going to attract people to the care sector, seeing it as a positive career choice. She advocates an affirmative approach, celebrating what is good, to begin to change the narrative about or perception of what it is like to work in the care home sector.
In 2016, in recognition of the issues of recruitment and retention of both registered nurses and carers, the Teaching Care Homes programme was developed. The programme is facilitated by the Foundation of Nursing Studies on behalf of Care England and funded by the Burdett Trust for Nursing. It is aiming to develop a geographically spread network of homes across England that are:
- Good places to live in and work in
- Committed to learning and developing, actively engaging with staff, students, residents and the community
- Outward looking, developing strong working relationships across the care sector but also across wider sectors e.g. education, health etc.
The ten homes participating in the programme to date all share a passion for working in the care sector. This is demonstrated in a short film that the staff at Landermeads, near Nottingham have recently created. ‘Why wouldn’t you?’ celebrates and shares all that is good about working in social care. Insert Image 1
The homes recognise that their staff are key to the experience of good care. To enable staff to continuously strive to provide care that is the best that it can be, they need to feel valued and respected; to have opportunities to learn and develop; to feel able and supported to try new things. These factors are fundamental to staff retention. Consequently, staff within the homes are being encouraged to become trainee nurse associates, to apply for nursing apprenticeships, or to begin their nursing education. Homes are also creating bespoke programmes e.g. leadership and management training for care workers and new roles e.g. a holistic worker. Some are creating new roles e.g. senior care supervisor in recognition of the hard work, personal development and leadership skills of staff. Similarly they are strengthening relationships with their local education providers, to offer and increase the number of placements for learners, seeing this as an opportunity to expose the future generation to all that the care sector can provide. Two homes (Landermeads and Wren Hall) are also working together and with local universities to develop postgraduate opportunities, such as frailty modules, which will be open to nurses working across all sectors and supporting senior nurses to access the advanced care practitioner apprenticeship course which commences in March 2019.
At a recent conference, one of the care home managers involved in the programme, asked the audience of about forty people (primarily nurses) she was speaking to, to raise their hands if they had been in a care home in a non-professional capacity. Only two or three people had. I suspect that this is the case in general, and yet the public, and many of those working in education and the acute sector for example, do not have a positive perception of the social care sector.
Several of the homes are really trying to establish intergenerational engagement, primarily as a way of enhancing relationships and experiences for people living in care homes. The children from Little Wrens, a nursery attached to Wren Hall nursing home are regular visitors, enjoying activities such as gardening and cooking with the older people. Insert Image 2. Others are strengthening ties with local primary schools, to ensure that the children are regular visitors. Young people who are scouts, guides or working towards their Duke of Edinburgh badges are also being welcomed.
Looking beyond the positive experiences for the older people, intergenerational engagement is an investment in the longer-term future. It is a way of inviting and encouraging people who would not ordinarily step inside a care home to become regular visitors. By helping younger people to make relationships with residents and staff and to create memories from positive experiences, perhaps we can begin to challenge some of the myths and negative perceptions that prevail, as young people and their families start to see the career opportunities that the care sector offers.
If you would like to know more about the Teaching Care Homes programme and our latest call for applications: Leading and Facilitating Cross-sector Collaboration, please visit: https://www.fons.org/programmes/teaching-care-homes/application-information