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High nurse turnover rates hitting care home sector


The extent of nurse retention problems in the independent care sector has been revealed by a major survey that has found average turnover rates are 27% this year.

Research by the National Care Forum has shown some of its member organisations are experiencing far higher rates than this – with one reporting 83% turnover of registered nurses.

This is in comparison to an average turnover rate of 8% for nurses working for the NHS in England, according to the latest information available from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

“Considerable attention directed at staffing levels in the NHS…appears to have impacted on recruitment and retention of nurses to the adult social care sector”

National Care Forum

The forum’s report – called Personnel Statistics Report, survey of NCF member organisations – looks at all parts of the social care workforce, but for the first time this year investigated nurses separately to identify issues facing organisations that employ registrants.

From the survey of 60 care organisations, two thirds reported employing a total of 1,906 registered nurses providing 24-hour care.

Vacancy rates for nurses ranged from 1.8% to 75% – with an average of 16% – while the average nurse salary was reported to be £27,000.

The report noted while pay is not a major reason for staff leaving other roles in the sector, salary prospects are adversely affecting nurse retention.

The care organisation with 83% turnover paid an average nurse salary of £22,000 and another provider with 76% turnover of nurses paid them on average £24,000.

“On this occasion we found that the lowest rates of pay corresponded with the highest turnover of staff,” said the report.

One organisation said problemshad led it to set up a special workforce to address the issue of nurse recruitment.

Another commented that retention had been “an enormous struggle” in the last two years and had resulted in increased agency spend.

“One of the most worrying findings is the seemingly shrinking proportion of younger people in the workforce”

Des Kelly

Despite pay rates for nurses in the care sector having risen in the past five years – from an average £25,500 salary in 2011 to £27,300 this year – they still do not compete with NHS salaries that start at just under £22,000 for newly-qualified registrants.

“Our members report that there is no way in which current fee rates enable them to compete with the NHS,” the report stated.

“There has been considerable attention directed at staffing levels in the NHS within the last 12 months and in turn this appears to have impacted on both recruitment and retention of nurses to the adult social care sector,” added the report.

It adds to similar warnings made by care home managers at a conference last week,as reported by Nursing Times.

Meanwhile, across all parts of the care workforce, the average turnover rate was reported as being around 20%, with nearly two thirds of all those departing in 2015 having been in post for less than three years.

Just over half of the workforce in residential, homecare and day care settings are aged over 45 and the number of staff aged under 25 has fallen for the fourth consecutive year to just 11.5% of the workforce.

Other findings showed combined agency spend has increased from £19m in 2013 to £32m this year, with the majority used for care staff.

Forum executive director Des Kelly said: “One of the most worrying findings is the seemingly shrinking proportion of younger people in the workforce. It is vital that we have strategies to attract young people to work in care – they are also our future managers.

“Apprenticeships and ambassadors are helpful but clearly not enough. It should be a priority for the care sector to work together to improve this situation,” he added.


Readers' comments (11)

  • What a suprise (not really) We have been advocating that Nursing Homes train their ownspecialised Nurses for years to stop having to rely on the NHS the shortage has been there for over 20 years but the problem has been held in obayance by Nurses from the Phillipines etc. but now even the mighty NHS is having to enrol these Nurses as well as encourage NH Nurses to return, how times have changed .

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  • One of the reasons the care homes are losing nurses is because the company's do not invest time in nurses training and give them support. I work in a care home and over the last 12 months i have seen 12 nurses leave the company i work for. This is because of the pressure they are put under to cover shifts above their contracted hours so agency nurses are not used. The company's could help the shortage of nurses by sponsoring their care staff how wish to become nurses. For this the person would be bound to that provider for a set period. I know it would help a lot of students that work in care homes as well as studying to become the next generation of nurses.

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  • I believe the main reason for high nursing turnover is healthcare companies are more focused on 'pleasing' the 'customer/client' (patient) than backing/supporting their nurses. Many of the hospitals are more like a 'Howard Johnsons' than a hospital and/or home based service caring for SICK, INJURED PEOPLE. So many times I've seen a 'client' who insists on filing a 'complaint' more because the nurse didn't tell them what they wanted to hear and/or were non-compliant and blamed the nurse--by which the nurse was hammered by the company for that nurse's 'client's' behavior. Never have I seen a hospital (the management) back a nurse over the client's poor attitude, poor outcome, or non-compliance. Why? 'Cause these companies want the client's money (private, medi-care, medi-cal, ss bennies). Too often nurses are just 'thrown under the bus' by the companies they work for. The posturing behavior of such companies give nurses and nursing--a very bad name.

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  • ***
    “Our members report that there is no way in which current fee rates enable them to compete with the NHS,” the report stated.

    Exactly - we can't afford to compete on wages, so how are we expected to pay for training, etc.? Now we're going to be forced to pay more for NAs - are the fees going to go up to cover that? Nope!

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  • The care sector is very profit driven, I have yet to come across a care/nursing home being run properly that doesnt make a handsome profit, they all plead poverty, but they wouldn't be in it without the money. The care sector has to invest in staff and pay them the going rate, they rely on tax credits topping people's salary, whereas the business should be paying them good decent salaries that are at the market rate or above to retain the quality staff to do the job.

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  • Reply to Annonymous 7.32pm

    Higher fees??? you only want these to prop up your profits. If all care homes were not for profit (as I have worked in for over 12 years) then the focus would change from spending the profits on dividends and shareholders as well as directors TO spending more on the quality of staff, training, decent wages to reflect quality and consequently better care. If you value and look after your staff they look after the residents.

    Come on Commissioners - demand that all care homes from now on are not for profit.

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  • 11:08am

    What fantasy world do you live in? You obviously have no idea about business or money or even reality. Get real! - a nursing home with 40 beds and 55 staff (for example) costs money - BIG money. Millions of pounds. "Profit" is merely the reward (small in this business) for committing HUGE chunks of money. Perhaps you'd like to take over the £2 million bank loan on which I currently have a personal guarantee?

    You don't even know what a "not for profit" is - that it needs to produce a "surplus" (a.k.a. profit) in order to survive. So the cost of a bed won't be any different.

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  • It's the CQC that are to blame for the imbalance between service-users and nurses/care workers. Complaints (no matter how ridiculous) must be taken seriously.
    Adult social care has adopted 'the customer is always right' approach!

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  • Anonymous | 9-Jul-2015 7:13 pm

    Nurses are in charge of Nursing so why blame anyone else, if they consider a siuation could be detrimental to the client they should call in safegaurding ,after going through the normal chanels of course

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  • A number of Housing Associations I am aware of were set up by business people do people actually believe that did it for charity, if you do come out of your dreams and get real.
    The only differance is an accounting proceedure which hides "profit" in salaries etc. the only problem Banks will not fund Companies making a loss

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