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NMC stands up for social care nursing

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

The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) Chief Executive and Registrar, Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, has highlighted how Covid-19 has changed the perception of social care nursing and can inspire new entrants to the profession.

Andrea was among other keynote speakers at ‘The New Normal’ – a virtual conference for challenging times in social care – hosted by Care Talk  and in association with Hays yesterday.

Andrea said: “I was so pleased to be able to join other health and care leaders for such an important discussion that’s very close to my heart.

We already knew the social care sector was facing real difficulties in terms of high turnover and staff vacancy levels, huge financial uncertainty and little in the way of integrated health and care workforce planning.

Covid-19 has brought additional unprecedented challenges – not least the exacerbation of existing inequalities for people supported by social care and the disproportionate impact on people from black Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds who often work in the social care sector, particularly nurses in social care.

And while the skill, resilience and bravery of our NMC registrants has been recognised more than ever before, we know that social care nursing in particular doesn’t receive the same level of support and public acknowledgement it deserves.

I’m clear that we must continue to make the most of the huge opportunities we’ve now got, as a consequence of the immensely difficult times we’ve had, by standing up for social care nursing – not just in terms of older people, but in the interests of those people living with mental health problems, learning disabilities and physical disabilities who rely and depend on highly skilled nursing care too.

One of the things that drives me to distraction is the perception of social care not having the same level of skill or value compared to those working in the acute sector. But the pandemic has meant we are now busting that myth. I encourage everyone to continue to share and promote some of the brilliant examples of practice and leadership happening in so many social care settings day in, day out, to inspire others.    

The statement we issued last year highlighting the importance and expectations we have for everyone on our register is also another way people can use what we stand for as a regulator to amplify their own voices in advocating and recognising social care nurses.

Most importantly of all, improving the perception and recognition of social care nursing is a shared responsibility for all of us who lead, manage and work in health and care services. It is incumbent on all of us to promote, champion and strengthen our social care nursing community – who really are the heart of our local communities – now and for the future.”

Trudi Barnett, Manager at Highwell House Nursing Home in Herefordshire – who also took part in the Care Talk conference – has experienced first-hand the challenges and opportunities for social care nursing as a result of Covid-19.

Trudi commented: “In over 30 years of nursing, I have never felt that my career is in the spotlight quite like it is today. It is time for our voices to be heard. It is time for a light to be shone on the expertise and skills social care nurses demonstrate on a daily basis in managing chronic illness and multiple long-term conditions, all without the need for a hospital admission. Nurses in social care are ahead of the game. We are prepared, we are innovative, and we are driven.

Throughout this crisis the nurses within our group have provided clinical support and guidance to our exceptionally skilled residential homes on a regular basis.

This collaborative working between nurses, managers and deputy managers led by an experienced provider who put in place a “command and control” operation has resulted in all 6 homes within the group, which includes approximately 270 residents and 300 staff members, all testing negative for the Coronavirus. This has not happened by chance; this has happened as a result of skill and leadership.

Going forward, I now hope attitudes will change. I hope there will be the realisation that nurses in social care are as skilled, if not more so in certain areas than our NHS colleagues. It is finally time to shine the light brightly on our achievements. I hope learning from Covid will enable the world to see what a vital part nurses in social care have to play in the future care of the older people in our communities.”

Simon Hudson, Director of Hays Healthcare said: “It was a pleasure to host this webinar on ‘The New Normal’. We heard from some excellent speakers from social care and healthcare organisations including The Nursing and Midwifery Council, Royal College of Nursing, Dementia UK, Herefordshire Care Homes Group, and had an engaging discussion about social care nursing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

We looked at how the perception of social care nursing is changing and whether this would inspire new entrants into the profession, whether the pandemic has given social care nurses a louder voice, what lessons we have learned about looking after our elderly population and how it could be an accelerator of change in the integration of social care and healthcare.

We were glad to have the opportunity to discuss these topics in depth and offer some expert opinion from leading industry voices. It is encouraging to look at some of the positives which health and social care professionals can take from this situation and what opportunities lie on the horizon. Events like these are vital in bringing together professionals in social care and healthcare and we look forward to working with this community as our world of work continues to change and evolve.”


Edel Harris





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