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OPINION

'Our nurse fellowship aims to transform older people’s care'

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Why do I have to explain why older people’s nursing is so important and why I am championing it?

Why am I working to create a bespoke fellowship programme for older people’s nurses; the first of its kind for the nursing profession in England?

This measure is in part a response to recommendations made by the Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust. The report said that the growing number of older patients should be recognised and called for the creation of a new position to take the lead role in nursing this group in hospitals. It suggested that specially trained “older person’s nurses” could lead improvements in care on wards with significant numbers of older patients.

The aim of Health Education England’s Older Person’s Nurse Fellowship is to create nurse leaders who are recognised experts in the care of older people with complex needs, and who can drive change so that the care of older people is kind, compassionate and of the highest possible quality.

The one-year, part-time fellowship, run by King’s College London, is targeted at nurses able to demonstrate experience of working in older person’s healthcare at a senior level - such as clinical nurse specialists or community matrons.

It will consist of a mix of distance and online learning, plus study trips and study days at King’s College itself and prospective fellows will be able to continue working in their current roles.

The fellowship consists of two core modules: Advanced Knowledge and Skills in the Care of Older People; and Leadership in Service Development, Innovation and Quality Improvement in Older Person’s Care.

Initially, there will be two cohorts of 12 students. One will start in November 2014 and finish in October 2015, and the second will begin in March 2015 and finish in February 2016.

We aim to create pioneering older peoples’ nurse leaders who will:

  • Tirelessly raise the profile of older people’s nursing to ensure that this specialty of nursing is viewed as highly skilled and valued as a career option for the nursing and care profession;
  • Build a robust evidence base, which enables all those working within the older person’s arena to provide intelligent, kind and compassionate care and treatment;
  • Become a cadre of “test bed” nurse leaders, which HEE and others can call on to test new and innovative ideas;
  • Find ways to demonstrate the explicit link between high-quality education and training and improved outcomes for patients. This is a phenomenon that is at the core of HEE’s purpose.

This initiative also links closely with our Shape of Caring review, which will help to ensure that nurses and healthcare assistants receive education and training that supports high-quality care now and for the future, in particular our theme on assuring predictable and sustainable access to ongoing learning and development for registered nurses.

The fellowship focuses on investing in nurses post-qualifying; not just “paying” for them to train to be a nurse, but realising that all nurses need lifelong investment.

Its ethos is quality, safety, service transformation and innovation in older person’s care. The fellowship will deliver confident, competent and compassionate leaders to act as agents of change, to transform person-centred services. I cannot wait to meet and work with our new fellows.

● To apply for the fellowship, go to tinyurl.com/KCL-fellow

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt is director of nursing for Health Education England

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