New clinical supervision pledge for social care nurses

Every social care nurse in England will have the opportunity to take part in a unique type of clinical supervision which aims to enhance staff wellbeing and resilience, it has been announced.

Leaders from across the health and care sector have welcomed the launch of a new programme of resilience-based clinical supervision (RBCS) specifically for social care nurses.

The programme will be run by the Foundation of Nursing Studies (FoNS) and supported by NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care.

“This is a really important opportunity for colleagues across social care to benefit from a supportive approach to supervision”

Deborah Sturdy

The charity ran a similar programme before, when it offered RBCS to learning disability and mental health nursing students during the pandemic.

Chief executive of the FoNS, Professor Joanne Bosanquet, said this programme had given the charity the momentum to continue its mission “to embed reflective practice as business as usual across health and social care”.

Professor Bosanquet added: “We are thrilled to be facilitating this first ever nationwide programme specifically focusing on nursing in social care.

“It is well documented that nurses in this sector often feel professionally isolated despite practicing at a high level and embracing complexity”.

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RBCS is a framework of clinical supervision which aims to enhance nurses’ wellbeing and resilience and, subsequently, improve patient care.

It focuses on developing awareness and understanding of the emotional systems motivating the response to a situation.

The approach uses elements of mindfulness-based exercises and reflective discussions, and is underpinned by some of the principles of compassion-focused therapy.

Professor Gemma Stacey, RBCS author and programme adviser, said she was “deeply humbled” by the fact that RBCS was being made available to every nurse working in social care.

“The widespread uptake of the principles and practical application of RBCS have not only met but exceeded my expectations, instilling in me a profound confidence in the unwavering commitment of our profession to provide support,” she said.

“FoNS has been the dedicated stewards of RBCS, ensuring its widespread adoption while preserving its quality and depth.”

Reacting to the launch, Professor Deborah Sturdy, England’s chief nurse for adult social care, who is developing the programme with FoNS, said: “This is a really important opportunity for colleagues across social care to benefit from a supportive approach to supervision”.

“This will help nurses improve their own wellbeing, that of the teams they lead and ultimately have a positive impact on those in their care.”

Professor Sturdy highlighted that social care nurses work across a diverse range of services and that they “deserve to have the requisite skills to nuture, validate and support themselves and others in their essential work”.

The announcement about the RBCS came today, during a session on social care nursing, at the annual summit of the chief nursing officer (CNO) for England, Dame Ruth May.

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In the session, nurses working across social care described some of the key challenges the workforce faces and what is being done to try and tackle them.

Lucy Gillespie speaking at the chief nursing officer for England’s summit 2023

Lucy Gillespie, national professional lead for nursing at Skills for Care, announced that the organisation was working with Professor Sturdy and the wider social care workforce to build on seven social care nursing priorities.

These priorities include “raising the profile of nursing in social care”, work around recruitment and retention and thinking about how to encourage student nurses into the sector.

Ms Gillespie said: “[We are] thinking about how we really value nursing placements in social care.

“Not just about increasing placement capacity, but really valuing the opportunity for nurses to connect and understand the complexity of nurse-led services, the autonomy [and] the moral and ethical decision making that happens in social care settings.”

In addition, Skills for Care is looking to expand the nursing support worker workforce in social care.

“We are doing lots of work around nursing associates, and the opportunities there,” said Ms Gillespie.

“Not necessarily replacing nursing roles but thinking about where [nursing associates] sit in the care sector.”

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