By guest blogger JEF SMITH
It is good news that the Department of Health has appointed Professor Deborah Sturdy as it first strategic advisor for social care nursing. Overdue, one might say, as the quality of nursing in social care settings has long been a cause of concern. In 2018/19 only 72% of nursing homes achieved a ‘Good’ rating from the Care Quality Commission, compared with 82% of residential care homes, and the calibre of the nursing care provided must have played an important role in this judgement. Although, in fairness, some nurses are employed in domiciliary care and community services where the ratings were somewhat better, there is clearly considerable room for improvement. Deborah Sturdy will have her work cut out.
But has she got her priorities right? The press release from Care England which welcomed her appointment contained quotes from three people, all of them in my view wide of the mark. Professor Sturdy herself said, ‘This is a significant opportunity to shine a light on the important work of nurses across the system. This role affords them a platform for their voice to be heard …’ Professor Martin Green, Care England’s chief executive, expressed the opinion that ‘Care home nurses are often under valued and do not have a sufficient voice. I hope that this appointment will correct this anomaly…’. And General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, Governor Royal Hospital Chelsea where Deborah Sturdy currently works, spoke of ‘this very important role supporting the Chief Nurse for England to recognise the important work nurses do in social care’.
I readily acknowledge that the status of nurses working in social care needs raising and that their voices should be heard more powerfully, but are these really the priorities? What about the quality of the nursing care itself? What about the residents, not least those with mental health problems or learning disabilities who are living in homes where the nursing care has been and continues to be poor, even abusive? Surely improving nursing care for service users should be at the top of the to do list, not nurses’ social and professional status.
Incidentally – but perhaps not coincidentally – all three of the people quoted in the press release chose to attach titles and honours to their names. A bit too status conscious?
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.