Why nurses should aspire to a career in care

The care sector has arguably, for many years, been seen as an unattractive, even ‘second hand’, career for nurses.

With reports that nurses in the care sector earn an average of £3,000 less than their NHS counterparts, and a perception that it is impossible to get out once you start work in it, it is no wonder that the sector struggles to attract and retain staff.

We’ve spoken to many NHS nurses who are bogged down in paperwork, bound by punitive targets and under ridiculous amounts of stress. When they first did their training, most aspired to be nurses because they cared and wanted to make a difference to patients’ lives.

There are over 49,000 nurses working in social care in the UK, and we believe that there has actually never been a better time for nurses to aspire to a career in care. Here’s why:

  • Most nurses want to leave the NHS because of the targets imposed and the fact that they are so overstretched, leaving them no time to care for their patients properly and in the manner they have been trained to do so. The irony is that the very such places in which they are more likely to be given that time, and hence the opportunity to build relationships with the people they look after, are actually nursing homes.
  • Pay rates for nurses in nursing homes continue to rise as a result of demand far outweighing supply. This is only likely to increase further, particularly when considering the implications of Brexit and the time it will take the government to train new nurses. Many nurses working in the care sector are now on higher rates of pay than those offered in the NHS.
  • Career opportunities are excellent for nurses in the care sector. When recruiting Registered Managers, most nursing homes will specify a registered nurse qualification as a pre-requisite to apply. Given the current dearth of nurses, this places those nurses interested in management roles in a very strong position. Clinically-trained Nursing Home Managers can now expect salaries of up to £40/45k for smaller homes (up to 40 beds), £50/60k for medium sized (40-60 beds) and £60k+ for larger/multi-unit homes.
  • Many of the larger groups also employ nurses as regional/operations managers with responsibility for oversight of a number of homes within defined territories. Gaining experience working in the sector can also lead to opportunities outside of the care home setting, including regional/ops management roles, regulatory compliance jobs (either working directly for operators or for outside agencies such as local authorities/regulatory bodies) and nurse consultancy roles.
  • Operators (particularly the larger groups) are finally cottoning on to the idea that they need to offer newly-qualified nurses preceptorships and ongoing CPD (Continuous Professional Development) opportunities. There appears to be a growing realisation that the only way in which nursing homes will be able to survive – and negate exorbitant agency spend – is to attract, and then nurture, newly-trained nurses and offer them the incentives to stay in the sector.
  • Demand for nurses in the sector is not going to dissipate – the ageing population will dictate this, hence opportunities will be endless.
  • With the ongoing development of numerous purpose-built homes across the UK and investment set to continue for the foreseeable future, the typical working environments nursing homes provide for their staff has improved beyond recognition in recent years and will only improve further. These new facilities have state-of-the art equipment and facilities which the NHS simply can’t compete with.

This story appears on page 21 of the May issue of Healthcare Business. Click here to download it http://healthcarebusiness.co.uk/current-issue-archive/