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New guidance promotes student nurse placements in social care

Guidelines have been launched to encourage and support the development nationally of placements for student nurses and nursing associates in social care settings.

The government arms’-length body Skills for Care has published the guidance in collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and England’s chief nurse for social care.

“Undergraduate placements, across a variety of care settings, are the best way to create the next generation of social care nurses and nursing associates”

Deborah Sturdy

The guidance is intended to be used by employers, practice assessors and practice supervisors who are responsible for assessing and providing learning opportunities for student nurses and nursing associates across the adult social care sector.

It covers how organisations can host student nurse placements in social care settings and the advantages for doing so.

The document highlighted the “ongoing demand” for nurses and nursing associates in the adult social care sector.

It comes as latest data from Skills for Care showed that there were an estimated 33,000 registered nurse filled posts in the adult social care sector in 2022-23.

The same data set showed that the vacancy rate for registered nurses has also remained relatively high, at 11.3%.

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According to the new guidance, increasing placement opportunities for student nurses was “crucial” for meeting the ongoing demand.

To support this argument, the document includes insights from universities and care providers about the importance of social care nursing placements on pre-registration courses.

Deborah Sturdy

Chief nurse for adult social care in England, Professor Deborah Sturdy, said: “Lived experience is critical to understanding what it means to be a social care nurse and taking full advantage of the opportunities offered by this amazing profession.

“Undergraduate placements, across a variety of care settings, are the best way to create the next generation of social care nurses and nursing associates, equipped with the skills, knowledge, and intuition to deliver exceptional care.”

Claire Leenhouwers, national professional lead for nursing at Skills for Care, said: “Whilst we recognise the challenges for smaller social care organisations compared to setting up placements in larger providers and NHS trusts, there are real opportunities for quality practice placement experiences that meet the needs of students and the providers.

“This will ensure a future nursing profession that has the skills and experience to work across a system to meet support expectations for care.”

The guidance also comes as a recent report by the King’s Fund has called for training providers to explore how to increase meaningful placements in primary and community care, in order to encourage students to choose those avenues as a career path.

The think tank’s report put forward the case for the health and care system in England to “radically refocus” and put primary and community care at its core, with workforce being a core component.

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