Responding to Scottish Care’s warning of intolerable nursing shortages, with 28 per cent of nursing posts vacant in the care home sector and 98 per cent of organisations struggling to fill posts, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland Associate Director Ellen Hudson said: “As is clear from Scottish Care’s reports published today, care homes are under immense pressure and are facing an uphill struggle to recruit and retain nurses. The situation is now critical.
“We fully support Scottish Care’s call for action to be taken to develop a proper career pathway for nurses working in care homes and for action to be taken right across health and social care and from the very start of nurses’ education in our universities, to promote the benefits to nurses of working in care homes.”
But the biggest problem, according to the latest report from Scottish Care, is an insufficient supply of nurses. Ellen continues: “Up until recently, we were just not training enough nurses and we are now seeing the results. Under pressure from RCN Scotland, this is now starting to change and more organisations, like Scottish Care, are now round the table with Government looking at how many nurses we need to educate for the future, not only for the NHS, but also beyond the NHS, in the care home, independent and third sectors.”
Nurses working in care homes make up almost 10% of the total number of registered nurses working in Scotland and, given the predicted rise in the number of older people and the increasingly complex nature of the care and treatment they will need, Scotland needs to be planning now to educate enough nurses for the future.
Ellen concludes: “Registered nurses are educated to degree level and have a wide range of clinical experience. This means that they are adept at spotting signs of deterioration or serious complications and can make decisions and act on them in complex and unpredictable circumstances. All the evidence points to worse outcomes for patients when there are not enough nurses.
“These reports today are a stark reminder that the Government, managers and educators must recognise and act now if care in all settings, including our care homes, is to be of high quality and as safe as possible for patients.”