Time to bust the myths around adult social care nurses

Wendy Leighton, Project Manager at Skills for Care

Wendy Leighton RGN, BA Hons, BSc Hons (Health Visitor) MEd, FHEA is a Project Manager at Skills for Care and leads on the strategic approach to nursing in social care.

All nurses are registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, yet all too often nurses in social care come up against the misguided perceptions like #they are not a proper nurse’, ‘it is a road to retirement’ or ‘all you do is give medication out’.

To bust those myths, Skills for Care worked throughout 2018 to develop a statement of role in relation to registered nurses working in adult social care. This statement would clearly identify that nursing in this context draws upon the capabilities and cultures of both health and social care professions by employing their nursing knowledge and skills within a social model of care.

During the consultation we asked nurses, allied professionals and sector stakeholders to describe the role of a nurse within a social care environment – what is unique and what is different to the role of the carer or the role of a nurse in the health sector?

The resulting document, ‘Registered nurses: Recognising the responsibilities and contribution of registered nurses within social care’, based on that research was launched during national nurses’ week in May this year.

The statement is a recognition that social care encompasses a wide range of services and environments, which means the nurse’s role will be wide-ranging and flexible in different situations. We know the work of a nurse in social care often brings a high level of autonomy, making decisions about individuals, staffing and day-to-day management in a complex landscape.

Nurses in social care were keen to express how well they know the people who are being cared for in the service and how they used this relationship-based knowledge to determine if, and when, interventions are needed in the best interests of the people they work with.

“Having a qualified nurse has made all the difference to my care. She is able to identify and instigate treatment much more quickly and prevent me from getting worse. She also trains the care assistants daily, so their knowledge is more in-depth.” Resident at The Crown Rest home, Kings Lynn.

The research found that there are a number of key professional and personal positives for nurses working in social care:

  • a relationship-based approach to support and wellbeing
  • person-centred nursing practice
  • leading and enabling others
  • operating within a complex regulatory and organisational landscape
  • being at the frontline of health and social care boundaries
  • a multi-faceted role.

“I am able to look after residents when they are physically well, helping them to maintain their health and I nurse them when they are unwell, giving very specific person-centred care.” Patricia Ralph, Clinical Manager, The Crown Rest home, Kings Lynn.

We need to use first-hand testimonies like this as a response to the recently published NHS long-term plan because the time is right to raise the profile of the 42,000+ nurses who currently work in social care. We also need to promote this sector to the many nurses who are not currently working, and to student nurses who want to work where the person is at the centre of the care being delivered.

Now is the time to get the word out about the challenges and rewards of nursing in social care as well as celebrating what our nurses contribute to making sure the people they work with can lead the lives they want to.

Find out more
The full document, along with an infographic poster and our “Myth busting video” where nurses working in social care challenge 10 myths about being a registered nurse in social care, are available at:



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