Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Care home sector facing nurse recruitment crisis


Nurse recruitment in care homes has reached crisis point, with warnings that managers are struggling to compete with the NHS for staff amid a national workforce shortage.

Lack of available staff is forcing some employers to deregister their nursing homes and forthcoming migration rules affecting overseas workers will only add to the pressure, nurses said yesterday at an event hosted by the King’s Fund.

“Care homes are in direct competition with the NHS for qualified staff and they can’t compete”

Ruth Isden

Julienne Meyer, professor of nursing care for older adults at City University London, said nurses were already “leaving care homes to go and work in the NHS because they are paid more”.

Ruthe Isden, health programme director at the charity Age UK, agreed, saying: “In some instances care homes are in direct competition with the NHS for qualified staff and they can’t compete.”

She noted that the sector was affected by a raft of problems, including inadequate public funding as well as issues around workforce planning, staff training and low pay rates.

One care home manager said all the overseas nurses they had recruited in the past year to help plug workforce gaps had now left to work in the NHS.

Jayne Muir, from the Caring Homes Group, said: “Recruitment and retention… is the nightmare for us as an organisation. At my care home I took seven nurses from Italy over the last year and I don’t have one left.

“They come over, we train them and give them a good grounding but then they say they are off to the NHS,” she said.

“They come over, we train them and give them a good grounding but then they say they are off to the NHS”

Jayne Muir

Professor Meyer also highlighted the new migration rules that will see migrant workers forced to leave the country if they earn less than £35,000 a year from next year. “It’s going to decimate the [care home] sector,” she said.

Sharon Blackburn, communications director at the National Care Forum policy, also warned there would be “dire consequences” for the sector if the government introduced its proposed salary threshold for migrant workers. She urged nurses to “raise our voices” against the plans.

Ms Blackburn also said care providers were in some cases now being forced to deregister as nursing homes due to a lack of qualified staff, with community or district nurses facing increased caseloads as a result.

“They [patients] have transferred to care homes without nursing and the backlog of that is those people don’t stop – just because of a change in registration – needing access to a nurse, so it comes from community or district nurses,” she said.


Readers' comments (15)

  • What a surprise!! Maybe if they paid decent wages and offered acceptable terms and conditions of employment, they would be able to recruit staff. It's not a pleasant working environment, yet they naively think they can pay peanuts.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • no surprise there then, the media always says how bad the care is in care homes, now even the cqc are encouraging secret filming

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The reality is that the vast majority of care homes are good places to work with excellent training opportunities and decent pay, but have a bad reputation because of a few who are seen on TVs exposes.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • michael stone

    Re a comment above - I have read the CQC guidance on 'secret filming' and from what I recall, it does not encourage 'secret filming' - the CQC said it was acceptable [and perhaps necessary] in some situations. In other words, the CQC didn't encourage covert filming, but did not say it should never happen either.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous | 3-Jul-2015 6:06 pm

    What you should say is: "if they were ABLE to pay a decent wage". They can't, in most cases, because social services have been cutting fees (in real terms) year on year. we'd love to pay our nurses the same (or more) than the NHS. We'd love to pay our NAs a Living Wage (or better). Unfortunately, if we did we'd be operating at a loss.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The government needs to rethink the non-EU workers rules. From April next year, non-EU nurses who came to the UK after April 2011 will be required to leave the country if they earn less than £35,000. I doubt many nurses in the independant sector earn that much and I suspect that nursing homes will be adversley affected if non-EU nurses are forced to leave the country.
    There needs to be joined-up workforece planning with the government, the NHS, the private sector and Health Education England to ensure there are enough nurses to provide all our healthcare needs, both now and in the future.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • As previous posts have stated working in a carehome does not mean you will be rich in money or time .You can however be rich in experiences and get rewarded by the smiles on a residents face or when you help a relative to come to terms with an illness.
    That being said the pay where I work is fair but not overboard. The salary for the independant sector IS NOT as good as the NHS however the NHS are taking lessons from the independant sector even.....none of the nurses I work with and that includes the CCM get over £34,000 so where do the government get their figures from ???

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I work in a care home and I get paid more than I would in NHS! At interview I explained I can't do nights or Sundays and my care home is fine with this!
    As a single working Mum I can't do nights but internal rotation in a lot of NHS jobs mean NHS is a non starter for me.
    I very rarely have to cover a shift due to sickness as carers always turn up as they don't want to let their colleagues and the residents down.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • There is a national shortage of nurses and this would be the perfect time to lever better salaries in the private and public sector- yet the unions are ineffectual.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • As nice as smiles are they don't pay the bills.
    If there are not enough staff in the nursing homes to do the job then to but it frankly, it is basic hard work. Toileting and moving patients for the amount of time that this need to happen must have staff numbers right. I have been put off working in NH as the odour that one gets as soon as one enters the residents' area, its usually urine type or an air freshener type odour.
    People rely on workers to always turn up whether sick or not as the bank cover in NH is very poor. This tyoe of working condition is not attractive to most people.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 1020results per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.