There may be early signs of a recovery in nurse recruitment in the care sector though turnover rates still remain high, a major survey of providers has suggested.
Research by the National Care Forum, which represents not-for-profit health and social care providers, has found turnover rates for nursing staff in care organisations improved slightly from an average of 27% last year to 23.6% in 2016.
There is evidence new approaches – such as values-based recruitment - may be starting to bear fruit when it comes to finding and keeping nursing staff, according to the body’s 2016 personnel report.
”Once again we found the lowest rate of pay corresponding with the highest turnover of staff”
National Care Forum report on staffing
The survey gathered information from 59 care homes representing 70% of the NCF’s members.
Among the 36 that employ nurses, they reported a total of 1,649 registered nurses were responsible for more than 5,300 nursing beds and supporting another 2,071 people at home or in supported living services.
There were 165 reported nurse vacancies – 10% of all nursing staff in the survey.
Meanwhile nursing staff turnover rates varied from 2% to 62% across 27 organisations with three reporting a turnover of more than half their nursing staff. However, six organisations had a turnover rate of less than 10%.
The research also suggests average salaries for nurses working in the care sector may have increased slightly since the end of last year.
A November NCF report on pay, terms and conditions, found the average nurse salary was just over £27,300 with annual earnings raging from £22,651 to £28,704.
”Factors such as career progression and conditions of employment are affecting retention of staff in social care services”
National Care Forum report on staffing
The average nurse salary reported in this latest survey was just over £28,500 with wages ranging from £24,000 to £33,163.
“Once again we found the lowest rate of pay corresponding with the highest turnover of staff, however similar turnover rates from two organisations with higher salaries show that pay is unlikely to be the only factor in retention of nursing personnel,” says the report.
It pointed out specialist nurses working in the care sector can command higher salaries than those working in the NHS.
The November pay report found salaries for Admiral nurses – specialist dementia nurses - employed by eight providers ranged from just over £29,000 to more than £41,000 with an average of about £36,100.
“As reported nurse salaries across these NCF organisations are somewhat higher than NHS rates, we may assume other factors such as career progression and conditions of employment are affecting retention of staff in social care services,” says the new research.
In May the NCF published a report emphasising the important role of nurses in adult social care, which highlighted a national shortage and difficulties recruiting nurses with the right skills and attitudes.
“There is much work to be done around workforce planning for the future, particularly recognising future requirements as [older parts of the] workforce move into retirement”
This found NCF members were responding by developing alternative models of care “designed to be more attractive to the modern workforce” as well as meeting increasingly complex care needs.
Other developments include moves towards “values-based recruitment” in order to attract nurses “with the right attitudes who will want to join and remain with an organisation”.
“Although it is early days, initial indications suggest that this work is offering a real improvement to getting and keeping the right staff,” said the latest report.
As well as looking at ways to recruit and retain frontline staff, the sector must also ensure there are enough people able to step into management roles, said the NCF, after the survey found 93% of managers were older than 45.
NCF executive director Vic Rayner said: “This survey highlights there is much work to be done around workforce planning for the future, particularly recognising future requirements as this portion of the workforce moves into retirement.”