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Survey ‘challenges assumptions’ on older people’s nursing

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Older people’s nursing is a hugely rewarding career with opportunities to tackle complex health issues and develop a broad skillset, according to a survey of nurses working in the field.

Those behind the survey, carried out by Bupa in partnership with the Royal College of Nursing, said the findings challenged assumptions that working in care homes was “less clinical or slower-paced”.

“It’s great to see nurses acknowledge the variety of clinical and personal skills”

Joan Elliott

The Care to Care survey, which set out to address common misconceptions of care home nursing, found 82% of older people’s nurses felt their career gave them the opportunity to work with complex health issues.

Meanwhile, 75% of respondents said they enjoyed the broad range of nursing and skills involved, and the ability to advance their clinical skills.

The survey was completed by 873 RCN members working across nursing, managerial and support roles in the care sector, with more than half working in or for care homes.

It also showed that nurses found working with older patients rewarding and valued the chance to build meaningful relationships with the people they cared for.

When asked what attracted them to work in a care home, 90% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed it was because they would be “using nursing care to make a difference in the life of an older person”.

“Older people’s care nursing is becoming more important than ever before”

Dawne Garrett

In all, 82% said it was the possibility of dealing with complex health issues such as dementia and cancer, while 81% cited the opportunity to provide continuity of care.

However, the survey also highlighted negative perceptions about care home nursing within the wider nursing community, including the idea the work was less clinical.

While 79% of respondents based in care homes agreed that older people’s care nurses developed a broad skillset, less than half of nurses working outside care home settings felt this was the case.

Those behind the survey hoped its findings would help tackle misconceptions and encourage more nurses to consider a career working with older people in the care sector.

Joan Elliott, managing director for Bupa Care Homes, said: “It’s great to see nurses acknowledge the variety of clinical and personal skills involved in working with older people.


Joan Elliott

Joan Elliott

“And it’s vital that we dispel the misconception that these roles are less clinical or slower-paced,” she said. “As the research shows, older people’s care nursing can be a hugely rewarding career, and I hope this encourages more people to consider it.”

Dawne Garrett, professional lead for the care of older people and dementia at the RCN, also said she hoped the findings would inspire nurses to enter care home nursing.

“With the population getting older, older people’s care nursing is becoming more important than ever before and it’s vital that we’re attracting the right people to the role,” she said.

“These findings will inspire current nurses, and those new to the profession to consider a career in the field,” she said. “It is a flexible, varied and above all highly rewarding career, empowering individuals to make a tangible difference to the lives of older people.”

“It’s allowed me to build up meaningful relationships with residents and their families”

Helen Baxendale

Those who have made a career in the sector include Helen Baxendale, lead nurse for Bupa Care Homes, who said she had “got into it by chance” after finishing her nursing training.

“That was 28 years ago and I haven’t looked back,” she said. “It’s allowed me to build up meaningful relationships with residents and their families, as well as being able to put my clinical and leadership skills to good use in a variety of challenging ways.”

Ms Baxendale highlighted that she had held a variety of roles in the sector and been supported to advance her career.

“Over the years I’ve worked in and managed care homes, and now I work in the central quality and compliance team, helping to ensure all our home managers and their staff are supporting our residents to live meaningful lives’ in care homes that deliver great quality care,” she said.

She added: “The roles I have undertaken have been really varied, but I’ve found great support throughout my career and have been able to develop a career that’s perfect for me.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • BUPA do not recognise trade unions. They actively tell their managers ways to avoid engaging with them. How hypocritical to pretend they care about nursing (other than to attempt to recruit them for £14 ph) I worked for BUPA in a nursing home. The reality was 1 nurse for a 12 hour shift with 55 very sick frail elderly people, all handrwritten care plans that took 5 hours to complete and were unsuited to clinical needs. No breaks and if the night agency nurse didn’t show up you were expected to work all night too. This is a gimmick - oh and by the way nurses have no access to computers so the union won’t be able to benefit from this relationship at all.

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