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Care UK calls for more recognition for the work nurses do in care homes

by Lisa Carr

As International Nurses Day dawns, Care UK’s most senior nurse, Rachel Gilbert has called on everyone to remember that nurses don’t just do an amazing job in hospitals or health centres but can also be found working round the clock in social care settings.

As professional lead to Care UK’s 1194 registered nurses working across its 152 homes, Rachel is a passionate advocate of nursing in social care. She said: “Nurses are a keystone of care home life; their thoughtful, skilled input helps residents in care homes to live their best life. This is anything from the way they get to know people so well they can spot if something isn’t right with their health, to helping care colleagues support people at the end of their life to pass away comfortably and peacefully in their own bed, rather than being rushed to an unfamiliar hospital. Yet still, for many people, when they think of celebrating nurses, their only image is the nurse on a hospital ward.”

Rachel added: “Increasingly, nurses are realising that social care nursing offers a very rewarding career pathway and care homes are true nurse-led care settings. In most cases in hospital, patients come and go swiftly but in a care home, residents can live there for a decade or more, and nurses have the privilege of building a relationship with them and their families and help to keep them healthy and enabled in a way that often isn’t possible in the community. I hope we can now spread the word among the public about just how valuable social care nurses are.”

Rachel has previously welcomed the Government’s appointment of Professor Deborah Sturdy as England’s first Chief Nurse for adult social care in December 2020.  Rachel continues: “Deborah has been instrumental in raising the profile of the value of social care nurses – especially throughout the pandemic. I am proud to have been invited to sit on her advisory committee and I can see the difference that committee is making by having a voice in influential circles.  Sadly, there is still more to be done. I’d like to see the media, politicians, even television drama editors showing the incredible work nurses do in care homes and how so many of them rise to very senior roles like managing a care home. That way, society will have a more nuanced understanding of the breadth of roles us nurses can play and who knows, perhaps it will inspire young people to want to nurse in that setting.”

Rachel Gilbert RN, BSc (Hons) is Care UK’s Director of Care, Quality and Governance. A Registered Nurse, she is a member of Care UK’s executive board, serves on the Government’s Social Care Advisory Committee and is a judge in the upcoming Nursing Times awards.

Care UK employs almost 1200 nurses in its home teams, as regional directors and in a central support team that offers advice and guidance on everything from dementia to managing incontinence to front line care homes teams. If you know someone interested in joining Care UK’s nursing professionals, see here.

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