Evidence the care sector is facing major workforce pressures has mounted in recent months. As we head into the pandemic’s second winter season, attention on this issue is set to increase.
But a ground-breaking care pilot supported by NHS Professionals (NHSP) in Nottinghamshire is testing one potential solution that uses the power of integrated working.
The aim of the pilot is to place high-quality, fully compliant Registered Nurses (RNs) in the county’s care homes to safeguard quality of patient care and reduce agency spend.
Working with Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH), Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group approached NHSP in 2020 for help to build a temporary Bank of experienced RNs to help deliver consistently safe and cost-effective care.
The pilot is expected to run well into 2022 and is still evolving, but it has already made a positive difference where it matters most – on the front line of care. Valerie Danisa is the first RN from NHSP’s Bank to the join the pilot and now works at Parkside care home, Nottingham.
Valerie comes with a high level of governance assurance because she was recruited via NHSP’s proven Bank Member process and fully in line with NHS recruitment standards. She also undertook a mandatory sector-specific training module from The Queen’s Nursing Institute (Transition to Care Homes).
For her personally, it has been a hugely rewarding experience. She said: “I have a lot of time to care and get to know my residents very well. The NHSP team has supported me every step of the way and I’m so grateful because I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.”
For the project’s stakeholders, the progress to date is a strong example of integrated working in challenging circumstances.
Ros Heath, Managing Owner at Landermeads Nursing Home in Nottingham, hailed it as an ‘unprecedented initiative’ while for NUH, it demonstrated the power of partnership working across the health and care system.
Rachel Finn, NUH’s Safer Staffing Matron, said: “NUH recognises the importance of collaborative working across the whole care system. Working with both NHSP and the CCG we have been able to support safe staffing through the provision of a high-quality registered nurse workforce.”
NHSP is a leading provider of RNs to the acute and mental health sectors, so it continues to adapt its recruitment approach with more strategic use of social media and positive engagement with organisations in the care sector, such as Skills for Care. Other work to strengthen the pilot includes proactively growing relationships with care providers and addressing key points such as pay rates – which can differ across providers – as early as possible.
The pilot has no fixed end-date at this time so the stakeholders plan to meet in early 2022 to review progress and agree next steps. Likely areas for discussion will be placing more RNs and making sure the current Bank pay rate for RNs remains competitive. On the agenda will also be NHSP’s innovative new Care Support Worker Development Programme, its proven ability to recruit at pace internationally and placing other much-needed staff, such as carers.
Andrew Walters, NHSP’s Strategic Account Manager, said: “Staffing within the sector is heavily challenged but we are keen to develop a positive, flexible and robust solution to support care homes and the wider healthcare system going forward as we aim to further improve patient care.
“The Nottinghamshire pilot is the first exciting step towards the goal of providing the highest quality and compliant workforce to safeguard care and reduce reliance on external agency staff.”