Skip to content
Globe Icon

Who cares? A scoping study to explore key issues in care and nursing staff in UK care homes

2014 Conference Presentation

Workforce United Kingdom

3 September 2014

Who cares? A scoping study to explore key issues in care and nursing staff in UK care homes

Barbara Hanratty, University of York, United Kingdom
Karen Spilsbury, University of York, United Kingdom


Objective: UK care homes are an essential part of the health economy, providing more beds than NHS hospitals for a population with increasingly complex health care needs. Despite this important role, little is known about the size or characteristics of the nursing workforce employed by care homes. They are an overlooked professional group, with no defined career pathway and no specific training requirements for work in this setting. Anecdotal reports of a lack of confidence and competence amongst care home nurses are common. The aim of this project is to scope what is known about workforce, education and training and career development for nurses in care homes, any innovations in nursing roles in care homes to promote better care for residents, identify gaps in our knowledge and understanding, and priorities for future research and development.

Data and Methods: This multi-method scoping project consists of three parts: (1) A consensus (Delphi) study on the training and professional development needs of nursing staff in care homes, with care home provider organisations, senior nurses, managers and registered nursing staff, nurse education providers; (2) A survey of a nationally representative sample of care home providers to map available data on the characteristics of the nursing workforce in care homes; (3) Structured telephone interviews with care home nursing staff and others who work with them (from general practice, ambulance services and social care) to understand different perspectives on nurse education and training in this setting. The study will be contextualised through a review of relevant published literature and policy.

Results and Policy Implications: An up to date consensus on priorities for nurse staffing, training and professional development in care homes will be presented, highlighting similarities and differences between different stakeholder groups. This will be complemented by survey findings on the scope of available data on UK care home nursing workforce, their qualifications and training. The implications of our findings will be set in the context of a post-Francis NHS, where safety and dignity of care for older adults is paramount, and increasingly innovative commissioning of care home beds places new burdens on a ‘Cinderella’ workforce. Following a successful bid, this work was commissioned by the RCN Foundation, an independent charity supporting nursing to improve the health and well-being of the public.