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In the UK, approximately half a million older people live in nursing and care homes. The sector now provides more beds than NHS hospitals, for a predominantly older population, with increasingly complex healthcare needs. Ensuring older people can access ‘good’ nursing care in care homes is crucial.

In 2013 the RCN Foundation provided £18,000 to the University of York to carry out 'Supporting Nurses in Care Homes', a research and consultation project focusing on the theme of patient care and professional development for nursing staff in care and nursing homes.

The researchers found that whilst the care home nurse’s role is broad and multi-faceted, little is known about the characteristics of the care home registered nursing workforce, their employment or career trajectories and ambitions.

They also found that care home nurses have continuing professional development needs but face challenges when it comes to accessing learning opportunities, with fewer opportunities available to them in comparison to NHS colleagues.

The team concluded that a whole-system approach is needed, to promote partnership working between providers and to enable an understanding of the full patient journey, including the nurses’ contribution in care homes.

Ensuring the continuing preparation, recruitment, retention and development of nurses in the sector is of public and policy concern.

Read the final project report from the University of York.