Care homes forced to drop nurse provision amid staffing crisis

The caution came after South Lodge Care Home in Leicester announced that registered nurse provision would be removed from the unit from 5 November, because it could not fill staff vacancies.

“Many of the larger providers in the UK will have de-registered nursing”

Avery Healthcare 

The 106-bed home was taken over by Avery Healthcare Group in May last year and bosses said it was already “heavily reliant” on using agency nurses to plug gaps in the rota.

After 18 months of failed recruitment efforts, the group’s leaders said they were left with “no other option” but to cut registered nursing provision at the home.

Instead, South Lodge will be refashioned into a residential care home for people who require extra help with their personal care or have dementia. Around 12 residents will have to find an alternative setting.  

Managers at Avery insisted that South Lodge was not alone in this challenge and that many providers were having to follow the same path.

“Many of the larger providers in the UK will have de-registered nursing from one or several of their locations for exactly the same reason,” they told Nursing Times.

“In delivering a regulated service, no operator wants to put themselves in a position where they can’t do the job to the right standards.”

“There is a chronic shortage of nurses within the independent sector”

Martin Green 

Stressing that the decision to remove nursing from South Lodge was a “symptom” of the UK nurse crisis, the home’s bosses blamed the failure by successive governments to properly plan the workforce.

“One would expect that it should be able to forecast its demographics and work out 15 years ago that in 15 years’ time we will need more nurses than we have now due to the ageing population,” they added.

Around half of Avery’s care homes provide nursing care and there are no plans to remove this provision from any other location at present.

Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, which acts as a voice for independent care providers, said some nursing homes had been forced to close all together due to recruitment problems.

“There is a chronic shortage of nurses within the independent sector and this has resulted in some nursing homes closing, and some re-designating themselves as care homes rather than nursing homes,” he told Nursing Times.

He called on the government to do more to support nurse recruitment in the social care sector. 

prof martin green index

prof martin green index

Martin Green

“The government constantly talks about integration but has steadfastly ignored the plight of the independent sector in relation to nurse recruitment, and has even had two separate recruitment campaigns one for the NHS and a much smaller less resourced one social care,” he noted.

He said the government must start to plan the workforce across both health and social care if it was to make good on its commitment to create an integrated system, including releasing dedicated money for social care recruitment.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said it had given local authorities access to up to £3.9bn of additional dedicated funding for adult social care this year.

“We have launched a national recruitment campaign to encourage people to apply for adult social care vacancies and the prime minister has been clear he is committed to fixing the social care system and will outline proposals as soon as possible,” she added.

A long-awaited green paper on social care that was first due to be published by the government by the end of 2017 has been delayed on several occasions.