Talk Health and Care

Recognition and respect beyond the NHS

For all too long the community was seen as a place for healthcare workers to retire to, keep their hand in while they had their young family or escape to when the going got too tough for them in acute care. This perception needs to change!

The reality is that in community, be that in peoples own homes or in care homes, our workplaces are amazing! Long lasting professional relationships with those in our care, their families and other professionals take place every day. Our priorities are driven by those we care for, although the perpetual staffing crisis often disrupts this and we can be left feeling as though our care has been less than fulfilling to our service users. 

There is a stark difference in the response to this in the community however. Measured only against my own experiences I would say that those receiving care outside of a hospital ward appear to gain a deeper appreciation of your time and skills. They say thank you more often and are truly grateful to see you when you visit. They work in partnership to get what they wish and will listen to our advise and explanations to help them make their decisions. 

The wages often aren't good; pension, benefits, maternity/paternity leave, sick leave etc are all pretty awful too. High recognition for social care partners is often hidden behind NHS banners with wording that reads as an afterthought. 'Nominate your NHS hero!' (or associated individual working with the NHS but not directly employed so in all likelihood at this point totally forgotten about...)

Simply put we don't feel like we belong to the bigger picture. Anyone who has the unfortunate honour to follow me on Twitter will have heard me liken Social Care to being the warp alongside the weft of the NHS in the great tapestry of our health system, the holes are showing and growing bigger every day. 

What can be done to encourage more staff to want to work in community settings?

We need to showcase what we do and invite more people into our workplaces to witness this. 

We need support from healthcare figures to set the example that workers in these settings are just as worthy as their hospital counterparts, something that Ruth May and Andrea Sutcliffe are already doing. 

We need to stamp out the archaic perception that community is the nurses 'elephants graveyard' and challenge individuals who would still carry this ideation to spend time with us to change that.

We need to target students and our young people to see the wider healthcare system. 

Above all we need to recognise and respect what our staff working in any community setting does. 

What would improve your day-to-day life working in the community?

We need to speak to people!

University students - lets improve their hopes and aspirations for their community placements. Let them not feel disappointed when they see 'care home' or 'DN team' go up on the placements allocation board. 

We need to share what we do, our skills and abilities to support and manage very complex needs with our acute hospital counterparts (some don't even know what a nursing home nurse does). Discharge planning can be fraught with unnecessary reassurances to a ward nurse that we can indeed manage X Y Z. 

Lastly one longstanding wish, which I have shared already in this forum, is that training and development of staff should be portable. They move around the sector and there is far too much time wasted on covering old ground, when they may have just completed the same training activity at their last place of work. My dream is for a 'training passport' with recognised approved learning to facilitate this. It would also give recognition to the time the staff spend on training and development. 

Commenting is closed

Navid DHSC Mar 27, 2019

Thank you, Sarah. We appreciate you taking the time to provide such detailed comments.

You are right: working in the community is amazing and we need to do a better job in promoting this. We also need to increase awareness of the often-complex work done by those working in the community and the skills they possess. You also make a very good point that it is important that the social care workforce is given the recognition they deserve and we celebrate our social care ‘heroes’ and ‘heroines’.

On your point about university students, what do you think could be done to give them better exposure to the benefits of working in the community? Additionally, do you believe a work shadowing programme that gives primary care and acute staff experience of working in the community would be useful?

Also on training passports, would you see this as something that could cover different sectors, such as community and acute, or something that only covers working in different parts of the community?

Sarah O'Connor Mar 29, 2019

Thank you, Navid, for your response.

Perhaps universities could host familiarisation events and invite representatives from different areas to speak with students about what they can expect ahead of placements in those areas. This could also assist in generating longer term awareness and interest in careers in social care.

Work shadowing is a great idea and would likely generate lots of valuable conversations and possible support for collaboration between our respected workplaces.

As far as training goes I would say that, so long as there is a structure in place to verify quality and relevance of training, new employers should recognise prior training. We have other ways to confirm that a new employee is capable of doing their role such as competency assessment tools, shadowing and mentoring. I would much rather spend days with new staff discussing and observing their practice, while working together 'on the job', than in a classroom going over the same old stuff they already know (fully understand that there will still need to be corporate induction and some form of knowledge check prior to hitting the floor). I see little reason why this concept should be limited to just social care.

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Navid DHSC Apr 3, 2019

Thank you for you coming back with more detail.

We will use the suggestions you have made when developing our thinking around how we can better support the workforce through education and training opportunities.

emma Thatcher Apr 14, 2019

Some great Ideas! I like the training passport !