Scotland’s new social care workforce plans pledge nurse recruitment campaign

Nursing Times, by Nicole Merrifield 

A national recruitment campaign to attract nurses and other professionals into social care, as well as further testing of a Dutch community nursing model, are among some of the key elements of the latest workforce plans in Scotland.

The proposals form the second part of Scotland’s National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan. In June, the government published its first set of proposals focussed on the NHS, in which it committed to training an additional 2,600 nurses and midwives over the next four years.

In the latest workforce report, which focusses on social care, the government said the role of nurses in care homes for adults was “particularly significant”. It highlighted that 91% of the 6,650 nurses in Scotland’s social services worked in these type of homes, or for agencies supplying nurses to them.

“This new plan sets out how we can work with our social care partners to recruit in innovative ways – putting nurses where they’re needed”

Shona Robison

“However, it acknowledged there were challenges with recruitment and retention of nurses, and that there had been a shift towards the use of more agency staff”

It noted the care home sector had previously raised concerns about a 44% increase in the number of nurses working in agencies between 2014 and 2016, combined with a 12% decrease in nurses employed by care homes, which may be contributing to a decline in care quality and recruitment issues.

Due to the number of nurse vacancies at some homes, Scotland’s regulator for social services, the Care Inspectorate, has already agreed to changes to staffing models in places that often included providing care staff with additional skills to work as part of multi-disciplinary team.

To help tackle the problems, a national campaign should be set up to promote social care as a “meaningful, valued and rewarding career choice” for a range of professionals, said the new workforce plans.

“We cannot forget the immense risk that Brexit poses to many of our workforces – particularly our NHS and care services”

Shona Robison

This will need to “reflect the importance of nursing allied health and other health professionals in social care,” said the report.

Meanwhile, a new way of providing community nursing, based on the Netherlands’ Buurtzorg model, would continue to be tested, said the report.

Several areas in Scotland are currently trialing versions of the Buurtzorg model, which uses small self-managing teams of district nurses to deliver care in people’s homes. The new model was helping to integrate health and social care, said the report.

In addition, in Lothian, plans to explore the possibility of a “teaching/research care home” for frail, older people was being explored, it added.

“This would bring together doctors, nurses, allied health and social care professionals with involvement of local communities and multi-disciplinary training for students, to determine what benefits this would have on outcomes,” stated the report.

Overall, the plans feature seven overarching recommendations, including better career pathways for those working in social care, improved training opportunities – such as framework for practice in social care, including those in advanced roles – and the development of workforce planning tools.

Announcing the proposals last week, health secretary Shona Robison said: “This new plan sets out how we can work with our social care partners to recruit in the future, in innovative ways – putting nurses and care workers where they’re needed, and where they can have the greatest impact.”

“Our job is to make sure that the workforce feels valued, respected, has the right skills and are given opportunities”

Peter Johnston

“We cannot forget the immense risk that Brexit poses to many of our workforces – particularly our NHS and care services which could be hit hard, with many EU citizens playing key roles,” she said.

“We will continue to work with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and partners to support recruitment and planning in a more innovative and proactive way, while always standing up for Scotland’s place in Europe and continuing to welcome those who contribute so much,” she added.

Peter Johnston, COSLA spokesperson for health and social care, said the report represented an opportunity to improve national workforce planning and focus on staffing models that were fit for the future.

“As demand for services increases, we need to support and develop a sustainable workforce. We have a committed social care workforce, and we know that Scotland’s social care services are valued by those who use them,” said Mr Johnson.

“Our job is to make sure that the workforce feels valued, respected, has the right skills and are given opportunities,” he added.