Healthcare assistants in Northern Ireland are to be known in future as nursing assistants, officials have said at the same time as announcing new standards for the support role.
The country’s Department of Health said the new title of nursing assistant was being introduced in recognition of the role of support staff within the overall nursing workforce.
“The nursing assistant is a new title for support staff working in a nursing context”
The title will replace the healthcare assistant title for all those working in nursing teams, said the department in a statement on Wednesday. It added that those in band 3 roles would be known as senior nursing assistants “in recognition of their wider skill set”.
A spokeswoman for the department said: “The nursing assistant is a new title for support staff working in Northern Ireland health and social care trusts in a nursing context, who undertake delegated aspects of nursing care and are supervised by a registered nurse.
“The title was agreed by the working group commissioned to develop the resources and has been endorsed by the department,” she said.
She told Nursing Times that the new titles would “now be promoted and embedded” across the country’s health and social care trusts.
The name change was revealed at the same time as the department launched a “suite of resources” for nursing assistants employed by trusts in Northern Ireland. They include new standards for nursing assistants and an induction and development pathway.
“These new resources recognise and endorse the valuable contribution made by this group of staff”
The department said it was also setting up a “task and finish” implementation group to “progress the roll out and implementation” of the standards and associated resources across trusts. Nominations for members of this group would now be sought from across the trusts, it said.
Charlotte McArdle, Northern Ireland’s chief nursing officer, announced the new resources in a speech at the Northern Ireland Practice and Education Council (NIPEC) annual conference in Craigavon.
She said: “Nursing assistants play a vital role in supporting registered nurses in the provision of nursing care, and these new resources recognise and endorse the valuable contribution made by this group of staff within the nursing workforce.
“The new induction and development pathway will also promote consistent development and support of the role across the health and social care system to maximise the skills and competencies of nursing assistants and facilitate career progression options,” she said.
Ms Charlotte highlighted that nursing assistants represented over 4,000 staff in the country’s health and social care service.
“They fulfil a vital and valuable role in supporting the registered nursing workforce in the provision of nursing care, and, as chief nursing officer I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank them for the job that they do,” she told the conference.
She added: “The new measures being introduced were commissioned by the department and led by NIPEC. It is timely that we have been able to announce these at the Enabling Professionalism Conference today.”
“The resources will serve to recognise and endorse the important contribution made by this group of staff in the delivery of safe, high quality care, working under the delegated supervision of the registered nurse,” said Ms McArdle.
The four key standards for nursing assistants
- Support the delivery of safe, person-centred and compassionate care to people who use our services
- Communicate openly and honestly to promote the health and wellbeing of people who use our services
- Maintain your knowledge, skills and experience to enable you to do your job properly, in order to improve the quality of care to people who use our services
- Respect and protect at all times the right to confidentiality, privacy and dignity for people who use our services