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Empowering nurses in social care: Uniting for a stronger voice

by Kirsty Kirsty

Deborah Sturdy, Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care reflects on the achievements of 2023 and the opportunities for the year ahead.

As we enter a new year, I think we should be proud of the milestones social care nursing has achieved and use them as a firm platform on which to build an even stronger specialism.

In 2023, Salford University was announced as host of the UK’s first ever Professor of Social Care Nursing. The post, funded by the RCN Foundation, sets an important precedent in recognising the specialism of social care nursing in all its diverse settings and iterations.

This new position will be critical in delivering work around workforce as well as practice-based research. There will be a steering committee of interrelated organisations and individuals to make sure the role delivers the greatest impact.

This, coupled with the appointment of the first Nurse fellow for social care nursing at the NIHR (National Institute of Health and Care Research) will really help to scope out what is needed for social care research. In terms of access, career shaping and as consumers of research ourselves, this is a fundamental shift.

The QNI (Queen’s Nursing Institute) have led the development of the first standards of social care nursing. For the first time, we have the opportunity for a Specialist Practitioner Qualification (SPQ) on the NMC register. This is another essential element, helping us build a strong specialism and fundamental to the positive changes we want for our profession.

We have a second cohort of registered nurses recruited to the Florence Nightingale Foundation Global Majority Leadership programme. I hope we will see this programme roll forward and continue to provide an opportunity for the large numbers of diverse colleagues working in social care to realise their leadership potential.

It was a real pleasure to see the first cohort graduate and hear their plans for sharing their experiences as they plan to write a series of essays for publication. We need strong visible role models and I will watch their progress with keen interest .

There is a growing interest in advanced practice for social care nurses and I am working with colleagues to build interest, gather evidence and explore how we can further unleash the talent of the social care nursing workforce in 2024.

Social care nursing voices needs to be heard locally as well as nationally. The work in establishing social care nursing councils in every ICS continues to gain strength, led by social care nurses.

I am hearing about more nurse leadership roles in local authorities and ICS’s being established and this ground swell of interest helps us all.

At the end of 2023, in association with the Foundation of Nursing Studies we announced a social care nursing programme of resilience based clinical supervision, which will be cascaded across regions in the coming year. This is a critical part of how we support our workforce and create useful connections.

The “We are Social Care Nursing” newsletter, published by Skills for Care, is an insight into all that is going on and I strongly encourage you to sign up for it. We need to keep connected and as the saying goes “there is strength in numbers”.

We need to build our community and strengthen our narrative about the positive, creative and rewarding careers available in social care nursing. Our expertise is needed now more than ever so let’s make sure our voices are heard.


Image depicts Deborah Sturdy, Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care

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