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Exclusive: 1,000 care makers by the end of the year

The chief nursing officer for England wants to create 1,000 “care makers” by the end of 2013 and could extend the role to more experienced nurses, Nursing Times has been told.

In an exclusive interview this week, the senior nurses leading the care makers project at the NHS Commissioning Board have defended the programme following criticism from frontline nursing staff.  

Championed by prime minster David Cameron earlier this month, the idea is for some students or newly qualified nurses to be designated ambassadors for the “6Cs” values set out in the new national nursing strategy, Compassion in Nursing, which was published at the end of last year.

The initiative, which is intended to build on the success of the “games makers” at last year’s Olympics, was part of a broad package of measures focused on nursing, which were outlined by Mr Cameron on 4 January.

There are already around 55 care makers. They took part in the CNO’s annual conference in December, where they were positively received by senior nurses.

But the concept has been criticised by many nurses on, who have questioned why they were not offered the opportunity to become care makers or said they are worried it could result in inexperienced nurses telling them how to do their job.

However, this is not the intended role of the care maker, according to the two senior nurses leading the project at the NHS Commissioning Board.

Hilary Garratt is the board’s director of nursing for nurse commissioning and health improvement, and Suzette Woodward is a director working on patient safety.

Ms Garratt came up with the idea of a project to combine inspiring new nurses about the 6Cs with the legacy of the London Olympics. Professor Woodward was asked to get involved because she had been a “gamesmaker”.

They told Nursing Times the idea was driven by the desire to create a link between senior nursing leadership and the next generation of nurses.

Dr Woodward said she hoped it would create a network of support for new nurses as they started out in the profession as well as helping champion the 6Cs in the organisations they were working in or on placement at.

For example, care makers could be asked by their director of nursing to organise projects to promote the 6Cs, such as a focus week, or to address the trust’s board.

Dr Woodward said they had borrowed the “essence and the spirit” of the Olympic gamesmakers of “being committed, being passionate and joyful and warm and welcoming”.

They will not be sent into other organisations and should definitely not be seen as “an extra pair of hands”, she told Nursing Times.

At a national level, she said care makers were being asked to act as a “fresh pair of eyes” by offering ideas on how a £46m fund for nurse leadership, announced last year, should be spent.

Ms Garratt told Nursing Times the caremakers were “one piece in the jigsaw” of improving the culture of nursing.

The first care makers were selected from 250 applicants who responded to an email from the CNO to nursing directors and universities asking for students and newly qualifieds interested in attending and helping out at the CNO conference.

The 55 were selected to reflect all areas of the country and all types of nursing as well as the diversity of the nursing workforce.

Dr Woodward said the other applicants would also now be asked to become care makers and the ambition was to recruit a further 750 by next December.

Asked why established nurses had so far been excluded, Dr Woodward said the initial principle had been to “inspire young people”. But, as the vision and strategy for caremakers was developed, it could be expanded to include established nurses and even retired nurses, she said.


Case study: the care maker’s view

Simon Nielson is a second year mental health nursing student at Liverpool John Moores University and a bank healthcare assistant at Aintree University Hospitals Foundation Trust.

At Aintree he has developed a poster campaign to promote the 6Cs and tries to spread good practice.

He said: “This role is not about us being any kind of inspector going in to monitor standards and we are not a volunteer workforce putting any jobs at risk.

“When I am working on the bank I will always be looking for pockets of excellence… One of the 6Cs is communication; I will always communicate and get staff to at least consider using [good ideas] that are used in other parts of the hospital.”


Readers' comments (49)

  • By the time these "care makers" have experienced nursing as a registered nurses , within an under resourced and chronically short staffed environment, they will rapidly lose any misplaced faith they have in the 6C nonsense.

    Why doesn't the CNO of England provide some real leadership and address the real and urgent problems the profession faces?

    Perhaps Robert Francis' in his soon to be released report on the Stafford horrors will provide for a well aimed rocket to be shot in the direction of the CNO England -----

    I very much doubt that the report will call for 6Cs but it will, almost certainly recommend better RN staffing and an improved skill mix.

    When the CNO England is shown to have been spending time on a project which does little to support beleaguered nurses will she resign or have to be removed by the profession collectively demanding better leadship?

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  • "Championed by prime minster David Cameron earlier this month, ...."

    In that case it must be fair, and the right thing to do! (I have forgotten what the other very irritating stock phrase is).

    (regardless of further misplaced funding which could have been spent on adequate staffing levels, improved training and all the other tools required to lead to greater professionalism, and whether or not this latest initiative is effective).

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  • Does this mean in future any of us unfortunate enough to be hauled over the coals before the NMC will have our six 'C's tested to see whether we have applied them adequately. Surely a quick and cost cutting test could be developed!

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  • looks like Cameron got carried away by the GOS sketch with all the pretty nurses dancing round the beds in the opening ceremony!

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  • Just a propaganda exercise. Goebbels would have proud.

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  • put the taxpayers money for their health care in the hands of the comissioners and this is how they choose to spend it!

    there seems to be rather a large gap in making games and caring for sick patients

    "They told Nursing Times the idea was driven by the desire to create a link between senior nursing leadership and the next generation of nurse"

    great what about the sandwich generation in between!

    "...she hoped it would create a network of support for new nurses as they started out in the profession..."

    looks like there could be a power struggle here resulting in an interesting tug of war with new nurses being instructed by these games makers and those with experience.

    "focus week"!


    "address the trust’s board"

    more meetings?

    "“essence and the spirit” of the Olympic gamesmakers of “being committed, being passionate and joyful and warm and welcoming”."

    I weep with joy although I do agree that a warm and welcoming atmosphere needs to be created in our hospitals for both patients, visitors and staff rather than a hostile, sterile and threatening environment.

    "...should definitely not be seen as “an extra pair of hands”,"

    so will they be supervising or just swanning around all day when their colleagues are rushed off their feet because there are not enough pairs of hands?

    oh, I see they are just a

    "“fresh pair of eyes”

    "... offering ideas on how a £46m fund for nurse leadership, announced last year, should be spent."

    a short cut and rapid sprint up to the top of the career ladder? (game maker experience definitely an advantage here)

    “one piece in the jigsaw” has to fit in with the rest otherwise it is useless

    the discriminatory recruitment process sounds dubious

    apologies for the scepticism but one has to get used to such an idea!

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  • 'extra pair of hands'? - I thought they were employed nurses who took on the extra voluntary role of care-maker. I assumed being 'voluntary' meant their care-maker role (whatever it involves, we still don't really know) was in addition to their job. carried out in their own time.

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  • michael stone

    I still see this as only half-a-solution.

    The issue isn't how to change the beliefs of nurses in respect of how they feel nurses should behave (probably the smaller part of the problem), the issue is how to empower front-line staff to actually effect operational changes.

    It isn't how these 'caremakers' will interact with other nurses, that needs addressing - it si how this network of caremakers (or, perhaps, 'nurse champions' or some such term) will be empowered to interact with management and Trust Boards.

    Knowing what should be done, is frustrating if you don't have the power to do it !

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  • what if no-one wants to be a care-maker?

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  • Is it a type of mass brain washing so that nurses believe the fault lies with them and not more staffing or better management? It is amazing the influence such tactics can have - history tells the rest!

    "... how this network of caremakers (or, perhaps, 'nurse champions' or some such term) will be empowered to interact with management and Trust Boards."

    I recently wrote elsewhere that employees like young workers as they can be moulded to their own fashion!

    "Knowing what should be done, is frustrating if you don't have the power to do it !"


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  • well, with a 1000 care makers and figures rising and based on game makers the NHS should be very jolly indeed.

    maybe it will be like the fun and games we had with the physios on the wards when different coloured bands were placed on each of the patients' beds according to the level of exercises they could each do. I bet H&S soon put a stop to that one.

    In fact maybe the managers offices, H&S, finance, kitchens and other miserable departments could do with some of these fluffy young care police and fun makers to jolly them along as long as they remember they are only 'pairs of eyes' and not extra 'pairs of hands'!

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  • Anonymous | 15-Jan-2013 10:32 am

    it says 1000 have already been recruited.

    Do you mean they may not want to play the game?

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  • Why is this article called 'Exclusive'?

    Do these care ladies and care creatures come with a sense of humour?

    will they be presiding over the care provided by doctors and others as well to ensure they also possess six 'C's and are capable of delivering care with compassion competently and communicating about it?

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  • why are there only 49 in the photo?

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  • Phil Dup

    I hope a 'Caremaker' comes into my Resus Room on an insane nightshift whilst I'm running round like blue bottomed fly trying to keep 4 people alive with the aid of one HCA and a clueless junior Doctor............
    The Caremaker will be told in no uncertain terms to get their sleeves rolled up and get on with the REAL CARE or get out of my room fast before I launch them out of it..... grrrr these Government inspired fantasy 'Initiatives' cost the taxpayer ever more of their rapidly dwindling cash.

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  • anon 10.52 - does it say 1,000 have been recruited? only 50 have been recruited, they would like to have 1,000 by the end of the year.

    Can someone please explain to me exactly what a care-maker will be doing, how is their job any different to any other nurse, where will they be working, how much will they be getting paid, how many hours a week will they spend on this voluntary role.

    If you are a volunteer care-maker presumably you can un-volunteer yourself at any time.

    If they cannot find a further 750 volunteers is this why they are going to ask experienced/retired nurses to fill the gap?

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  • Anonymous | 15-Jan-2013 12:08 pm

    the aim is to recruit 1000. I was responding to a comment above mine so the when and the how was immaterial!

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  • oh i cant wait seems such fun. and if Cameron is behind it it will be (not)

    Cant we nurses just get on with our work after all in the last mess up no nurse was made redundant!!!

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  • Anonymous | 15-Jan-2013 12:59 pm

    work and patients now seem to have been forgotten. lets go and join the party!

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  • Similarities/Differences between paid vs voluntary:
    1. You're dedicated to take the rough with the smooth, in ever more challenging environments, internally and externally;
    2. Any compassion and morale left, will be eroded by the constant changes you see and will take increasing special efforts to continue in your work;
    3. You get paid, you may/may not be registered, you could lose registration + job for the slightest mishap or worse;
    4. Changing roles can be tough + very difficult, with people 'knowing' more than you telling you how to do your job (from all sides)

    1. You have to be good to stick it out, once you've done a few hard shifts; even more dedicated to stick it out for a few weeks in a row;
    2. If you don't like it in an area, its much easier to move around; as you're not paid there, there isn't the same binding conditions, just your dedication; but it is very very tough to get up for NO pay;
    3. Some postings expect that you change roles, pick things up quickly, frequently, with less stability than regular posts in, some cases.
    4. People less likely to listen to you, as you're not a permanent fixture, or think you don't have an understanding of what's going on there

    Both expected to work hard/fast, possibly in challenging environments, with the little support you have are also stretched. Making sure that you're delivering best possible care to those you're looking after;

    Be at the beck/call of your patients/clients (+ relatives), otherwise you're seen as NOT caring, unkind and lack compassion - even when you're trying to promote independence, dignity and stopping people becoming institutionalised.

    Still ultimately managed by people in ivory towers, expecting miracles for as little as possible.
    Paying peanuts, you get... (maybe the odd gem) - however people's morale, standards + attitudes might slip on the spiral staircase, as the **** flows downwards

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