‘Increasing awareness and understanding of social care nursing’

Social care nursing is definitely part of the conversation in the nursing landscape, but outside of my nursing colleagues in the sector I often find myself in conversations where people don’t understand the scope of practice and are limited to a dated understanding of our social care nursing work.

The social care workforce works with people towards healthier lives; investing in health promotion and prevention of ill health.

“I am regularly presented with examples of social care keeping people out of hospital”

This works alongside the more commonly understood role of social care – supporting discharge from hospital, end of life care, and of course reablement, which remain very much part of the social care nursing portfolio.

Examples of health promotion and prevention of ill health are absolutely the mainstay of social care work, which is clearly articulated as part of the Cavendish Review.

In my role at Skills for Care, I am regularly presented with examples of social care keeping people out of hospital and seeing improvement in people’s day-to-day experience of living with disability and illness.

From the outset, the person-centred nature of social care nursing and wider social care work sees a focus on humanity, opportunities for health improvement, informed choice and control, and a greater emphasis on care in people’s own homes as a part of local communities.

In a recent visit to a provider, I heard about the care planning for a resident who was an older person with a diagnosis of dementia (I will call her Mary for the purpose of this story).

The home has individual households of up to six people, with a kitchen and laundry room as part of the household, as well as access to a shared gym, wellbeing room, beauty salon, and an open café for the community.

Mary was very underweight when she arrived, sleeping fitfully and initially distressed in her new surroundings.

Her care planning included use of the gym for exercise, and over weeks and months they had seen her begin to put on weight and sleep better as she settled into a routine.

She found purpose in her exercise and joining in the household cooking and laundry which were all part of her life choices prior to being in residential care.

Last month, I had the opportunity along with social care nursing colleagues to attend Ruth May’s chief nursing officer’s summit as a guest of Deborah Sturdy, the chief nurse for adult social care.

Headlines from CNO Summit and social care

We delivered a main stage session which showed some of the social care nursing scope of practice and powerfully demonstrated our USP; autonomous and person-centred nursing.

The two-day event posed lots of opportunities to consider where nursing as a profession integrates across systems.

I wanted to finish with a conversation I had at a recent event with a student mental health nurse just completing her second year.

She chooses to work in social care for a domiciliary care provider on a part-time basis, working around her studies.

She believes the opportunity to connect with people in their own homes and communities gives her a much broader understanding of the health and social care challenges and, more importantly, the opportunity to influence healthier outcomes.

She shared that some of the people she visits are impacted by loneliness. This means that in her visits she may need to prioritise time and connection with people as well as meeting their care needs.

Her role gives her the opportunity to get to know people and ask questions that are important for them to talk about during the visit, perhaps encouraging people to connect with others.

The fundamental understanding that social care nursing has the tools and ethos to support people to live healthier and purposeful lives is a crucial part of our education for current and future professionals.

Lucy Gillespie is national professional lead for nursing, Skills for Care

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