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 nursingtimes.net, 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.”