New standards for care home nurses

February 5, 2021

The first ever standards for nurses working in residential homes have been published by community nursing charity, The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI).

The ‘Standards of Education and Practice for Nurses New to Care Home Nursing’ were launched at a meeting of the QNI’s Care Home Nurses’ Network on 29th January 2021.

The standards are augmented by a Practice Portfolio developed with Skills for Care. The QNI was commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I) to develop the new standards to support the transition of a Registered Nurse who is new to working in the Care Home sector.

Currently there are 36,000 registered nurses employed by adult social care (Skills for Care 2019/20; NMC 2019) and the care required by residents is becoming more complex and technologically sophisticated. This requires the registered nursing staff to be skilled, knowledgeable and competent in caring for this group of people.

Dr Crystal Oldman CBE, QNI Chief Executive, said, ‘The QNI has always recognised Care Home Nurses as highly valued members of the community nursing family. For the last five years, we have focussed many of our programmes of work on supporting this workforce and providing opportunities for professional development.

The QNI worked with a representative group of Care Home providers and commissioners to address and identify specific education and practice standards. The resulting standards are comprised of a set of benchmarks that can be used to assess the skills and knowledge that the Registered Nurse will need to demonstrate in the Care Home setting.

‘The well-established national QNI Care Home Nurse Network (supported by the RCN Foundation and the CNO for England) is a dynamic place for all Care Home Nurses to share and learn. Members of our network were vital to the development of the standards being launched today. I had the privilege of chairing the reference group for the standards development - a deeply committed group of nurses who shared the values of the QNI and were dedicated to supporting excellent care for each and every one of their residents. My thanks to them for their expert guidance and to NHSE/I for the funding which made it possible.’

Sharon Aldridge-Bent QN, Director of Nursing Programmes (Leadership) at the QNI who leads the Care Home Nurse programme of work, said, ‘There has been a realisation across the health and care sector that nursing staff working in care homes support a unique area of practice and a very high level of responsibility in delivering care in settings that are complex and can involve multiple issues of physical and mental health dependency among residents.

‘This has been brought into even sharper focus by the pandemic and we have seen a greater focus on care homes than ever before in the past year. Government and system leaders realise that care homes are at the very centre of the health and social care system in every community in the UK and touch the lives of millions of individuals and families.’

Oonagh Smyth, Chief Executive of Skills for Care, said, ‘Our nurses in adult social care have been absolutely instrumental in helping our sector keep the people we work with safe and well during the pandemic. We still have high vacancy rates for nurses, so these new standards will help attract Registered Nurses to choose to work in care homes and make a smooth transition into roles that we know offer a huge degree of professional and personal job satisfaction.’

Visit The Queen’s Nursing Institute website to download the new standards.

In 2021 the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) will be able to support ten nurse-led innovation projects that aim to improve care for people with complex needs.


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