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Cameron calls on new nurses to be 'care makers'

Newly qualified nurses acting as “care makers” will go into hospitals and care homes to help promote nursing values under a package of nursing policies unveiled by prime minster David Cameron.

The role will be voluntary and intended to build on the success of the “games makers” at last year’s London Olympics, who volunteered to make sure the games ran smoothly.

They will act as role models and ambassadors for the professional values set out in the new nursing strategy, Compassion in Nursing, which was published at the end of last year.

Around 50 “care makers” have already been recruited. They attended the chief nursing officer’s annual conference last month and were selected because they embody the values associated with compassionate care.

Other initiatives announced by the prime minister on 4 January included the nomination of a designated dementia champion in every ward and a dementia nursing specialist in every NHS organisation.

Healthcare assistants will be given more career development opportunities to train as registered nurses, while all staff will have access to e-learning course on dementia funded by the Department of Health.

In addition, the 10% of acute trusts that have not yet adopted hourly ward rounds will be “urged” to do so by the end of 2013-14. Chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings has been handed responsibility to ensure this takes place.

The Care Quality Commission has also been asked to carry out a “root and branch review” of induction training for care staff.

Other measures set out by Mr Cameron include rolling out the “friends and family test” to primary care, community services and district nursing.

The test – where patients are asked if they would recommend the service they received – is currently in use in hospitals across the Midlands and East region and is due to be rolled out nationally in acute trusts from April. Mr Cameron will also call for staff to be asked for their views regularly.

He said: “We know what an incredible job nurses do – and how much we ask of them. So we’re giving nurses more support to deliver these changes but also help for all NHS staff, healthcare assistants and carers. Good quality care must be everyone’s business.

“It is crucial that we continue to rebuild confidence in the quality of care in our country – and I hope this effort will help us to do that.”

Chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing Peter Carter welcomed the announcement and the prime minister’s acknowledgment that most nurses do an incredible job.

“We are particularly pleased to see a commitment to improved training and development for healthcare assistants,” he said.

“The root and branch review to be undertaken by the CQC should help to address the situation where new care staff have been expected to care for patients without proper training and supervision.”

Unison head of nursing Gail Adams gave the package of measures a cautious welcome.

She said: “The principle behind this initiative is good, but the NHS is under severe financial pressure. We have seen cuts across the board, and without significant additional funding to implement these plans locally, organisations are likely to struggle.”

She added: “Nurses make the best advocates for patients, but they can only do this if they are employed in sufficient numbers, in the right place and at the right time to provide safe, compassionate and dignified care.”

Unison also said that comparisons between “care makers” and Olympics “games makers” were misleading. Volunteers make an invaluable contribution to services when they complement existing staff levels, rather than replacing them, the union said in a statement.

Louise Silverton, the Royal College of Midwives’ director for midwifery, said she welcomed the expansion of the friends and family test.

“It will lead to women choosing maternity units where they believe they will get high-quality maternity care or go for a home birth or to a midwife-led unit, if these are rated positively by other women,” she said.



Readers' comments (174)

  • If one of these "brand new " care makers dares to enter my ICU in an attempt improve the care I and my very competent colleagues will welcome s/he and beg to be shown how to "improve" care provided to our very sick, highly dependent patients!

    I have heard some nonsense in my time but this must rank as one of the most idiotic initiatives ever dreamt up ----

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  • Anon
    Agree totally! Will they be the same newly qualified staff-nurses who are parachuted into leadership roles?

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  • we could offer them training in how to care for nurses and make good coffee!

    why do autonomous experienced nursing professionals need such apparitions to come and tell them how to do their job?

    much better to have regular inter-disciplinary and inter-nursing colleague meetings in each unit to discuss improvements in care and including mangers where necessary. This worked very well on the wards I have worked on.

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  • "...comparisons between “care makers” and Olympics “games makers”"

    its a joke?

    or maybe more fun and games on the wards

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  • we could always send them to parliament to improve the the policy makers

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  • Laura Carter

    As one of the 50 Care Makers already recruited, we certainly did not sign up to come in to your organisations and tell you how to do your jobs. We are ambassadors for compassionate care and the vision set out by the CNO.

    Before you write us off completely please remember we are students and newly qualified nurses and have no intentions of bossing senior colleagues around but merely sharing good nursing practice which has been lost in some places.

    I am proud to identify myself as a Care Maker and embody the 6Cs of nursing - Care, Compassion, Communication, Commitment, Competence and Courage.

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  • These newy qualified nurses who are care makers are volunteers, do they have substantive NHS jobs or are they unemployed Nurses?

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  • How very sad that people feel the need to comment on an initiative they know nothing about and instantly dismiss it. The Care Makers are either student nurses or newly qualified nurses who are simply helping their colleagues understand what the 6Cs are all about. They are not telling people what to do nor saying they are the ones that know it all. Show some compassion for those that had the courage to volunteer to do this - it looks like they are going to need it.

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  • Well done Laura for having the courage to come on here and put your view forward. People should ask you more about what your role is before they judge.

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  • If the Govt wanted this to be taken serioulsy then using Students and Newly Qualified staff was an odd way of gaining buy-in from those who are actually doing the caring. Can anyone immagine using Medical Students and FY1's to gain the trust of Consultants?

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  • Hi Laura
    Thanks for having the courage to come on here and admit to being a "Care Maker". But you must have some kind of insight into why hard working nurses might be suspicous of such an idea. Particularly as for years senior nurses have been complaiining abou the quality of students and newly qualified nurses. How exactly do you or the CNOs team think that you embody compassion. Compassion as a concept is easy, it's delivering day in day out, without reward or acknowledgment that is the challenge.

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  • Laura Carter

    Dear Anon 11.19am,

    Of course I have an idea of why hard working nurses might be suspicious I am a hard working nurse (at least in my opinion). I have been working in the NHS for 4 and half years, as a student nurse and previously as a HCA.

    So many government proposals are nonsense but the 6Cs are a great way to define what nurses do and a motto that we could really adopt as our own. I know it's easy to say that one is compassionate but for me it's treating patients with kindness, as if they were your own family and putting their needs before your own.

    Students and newly qualified nurses can have a rough time at the mercy of senior colleagues who criticise our education and training, that it is not as good as 'the old days' but we have no control over what the NMC set out and being told that our 3 years hard work and study is no good is extremely discouraging.

    And as for Anon 11.04pm, directors of nursing were the main delegates of the CNO conference and were very enthusiastic about the Care Makers role. As they implement the new vision at board level, we are involved with this and spreading it throughout our organisations. Students and Newly Qualified Nurses are the ones who are actually doing lots of the caring and that is why we are involved.

    Finally for Anon 10.20pm, the Care Makers are all students or newly qualified nurses with jobs. We took on this role extra to our studies and duties because we want to make a difference.

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  • why is there so much emphasis on compassion when empathy is also vital to nursing care.

    n noun sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

    Middle English: via Old French from ecclesiastical Latin compassio(n-), from compati 'suffer with'."

    n noun the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

    empathetic adjective
    empathetically adverb
    empathic adjective
    empathically adverb

    early 20th cent.: from Greek empatheia (from em- 'in' + pathos 'feeling') translating German Einfühlung.

    People often confuse the words empathy and sympathy. Empathy means 'the ability to understand and share the feelings of another' (as in both authors have the skill to make you feel empathy with their heroines), whereas sympathy means 'feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune' (as in they had great sympathy for the flood victims)."

    according to the COED 11th Ed it would seem that compassion is definately an important motivator required to enter the profession and maintain good practice and interpersonal relationships but it is empathy which is a more active means required to provide adequate care.

    From my understanding one could be very compassionate even sitting at a desk all day or ticking boxes on behalf of one's patients whereas empathy requires excellent interpersonal skills, social intelligence, sophisticated listening and communication skills and appropriate pro-activity drawing on knowledge, skills and experience to find the best possible solutions to proved excellence in care.

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  • I feel this concept is actually flawed. I really appreciate Laura coming on and exlaining to us how she sees her role, but I think it is peculiar that no experienced nurses were approached to act as 'Care Makers' . The post above which commented that med students and F1s wouldn't be chosen to act as examples to consultants says it all, really.

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  • i think this could belittle qualified and experienced nurses. better might be to select suitable candidates for entry to nurse training and during the course of training teach and instil social and professional values, duties and responsibilities as well as discussing compassion at a psychological and philosophical level, and the more practical skills which go with empathy and any other 'c's deemed necessary for caring for patients and all members of society and for the job.

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  • I have met care makers and as a professional family I feel we should welcome and embrace them. They are all enthusiastic and motivated nurses and in my view can and do add value.
    I do not need to be asked to be an ambassador for the 6Cs - I'm old enough and experienced enough to know its the right thing for me to do, without any special designation. But I wish I had been given the chance earlier in my career to do something like this.
    I am sure there will be many more opportunities for all of us to step up and do something for nursing. If its not being a care maker then its probably on your next shift.
    This is about focussing on nursing as well as the future of young professionals - please can we take up the opportunity to be positive.
    By the way - if you want some inspiration why not watch this:
    I'm thinking about my masterpiece - what can I offer - are you?
    Thank you Laura!

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  • without being a 'care maker' and possessing the relevant professional values along with the adaptability to update and use my knowledge, skills and experience to changing situations every day of my working life I should not be in my nursing job! At my stage in my career I should not need others to come along and tell me this.

    Rather I prefer draw information from the experts and the most recent evidence, and to exchange information on best practice and learn and advance together with other members of the interdisciplinary team whether they be employed as cleaners, managers, consultants, junior hospital doctors and my peers as well as students from all disciplines, relatives or patients. That with proper resourcing and adequate funding and good management is how we can achieve the best possible quality of care.

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  • michael stone

    Laura Carter | 4-Jan-2013 10:17 am

    There seem to a LOT of 'plans' to be announced in the coming days, from what I read in one of today's papers, but so far the details have not really come out. I think I'll comment, if at all, after I've seen the details, on most of these proposals - however, the issue with the 6 Cs has always been about the power to change behaviour, as opposed to an understanding of things like 'caring'.

    This is obvious in things like the recent RCN comment that nurses have a professional duty to raise issues, which ignores the fact that within bad institutions, members of staff who highlight 'poor culture/bad behaviour/unacceptable care' tend to get harassed and bullied, and you need to safeguard the staff who you are telling to raise concerns, FIRST !

    The 'inexperienced nurses telling experienced colleagues how to behave' one, which looks to be present in this, is truly weird: I can't help but wonder if something has been lost 'in translation' for that. But an 'external set of eyes' is always useful in picking up on things 'internal people' can't easily see.

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  • perhaps if enough people spoke up about poor, unacceptable and unsafe practice organisations would have to change their culture otherwise they would be have to be getting rid of a mighty lot of their staff which may not be all that easy to replace or in their patients' or even their own best interests. they may then have to replace a lot at a time with less experienced and less qualified staff causing standards and efficiency to drop even lower and costing them even more and thus perpetuate a viscous circle with a quick sand effect. If this didn't cause so much damage and detriment to patients it would be interesting to witness, and especially the effect on management and their preciously guarded posts, salaries and incentives!

    on the other hand, could the role of these new 'care makers' help stamp out any unhealthy competitiveness and bullying?

    DH Agent - as if ! | 4-Jan-2013 2:48 pm

    as for 'external sets of eyes', I am not sure how helpful this would be. Our bosses tended to come round when we were at our busiest and most stressed. often on the ward on our own when it really was only possible to be with one patient and execute one task at any one point in time. However, we were never praised for what we had done no matter how large or small and even if we had to drop everything to attend a cardiac arrest and transfer of patient to ICU, a procedure which can take several hours of attempting to save their life before transferring them. However, all the bosses noticed and could comment on was the tasks which had not been carried out or achieved and made worse when some poor patient cried out or complained that they had been left for a long time on a bed pan or a soiled sheet had been forgotten in the corner of a room after changing a bed, etc., or even a patient who wanted something which really could wait for a while until reinforcements came. We used to find all of this very discouraging and demoralising when we knew we were doing our very best and we also knew that eventually things would get done even after we should have gone home, but later rather than sooner.

    I suppose with years of working and increasing experience and self-assurance, although I would never dream of doing it, I suddenly realised I could just walk onto any other ward and be unaware of all that had been achieved in the last few hours whilst noticing what had been neglected (or was still outstanding). If something needed urgent attention, instead of just rooting out the nurse and pointing this out or criticising him/her I had the tendency, if I could, just to carry out the task or solve the issues myself. We were several wards on our floor and sometimes we replaced each other or went to give a hand so there was no harm if I happened to go next door and borrow something or tell a colleague something just to lend a helping hand for a few minutes if I saw s/he was very busy and unavailable (why couldn't the bosses, also trained nurses do the same?). We never liked keeping patients waiting, and our bosses even less, but sometimes it was unintended but unavoidable.

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  • More names same game.
    Keep it simple ---Get more staff on the wards and we all will be happy people.
    Keep it simple --- Get good management and we all will be doing well.
    More names same game.

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