SCIE supporting new role of nursing assistants

27 August 2015

New initiative gives more responsibility to care staff and provides a better service to care home residents.

HC-One and SCIE in partnership

I currently give medication out, help on the floor, complete social work reviews and generally look after the well-being of the residents, whether that‘s assisting with eating and drinking, or helping the day-to-day running of the floor.

HC-One nursing assistant on the scheme.

There’s a national shortage of nurses across the country and that’s having a big impact on the NHS. Care provider HC-One is addressing this by supporting nursing assistants to take on some of the roles that nurses have predominately done. SCIE is supporting this initiative by conducting an independent evaluation of the Care Assistant Development Programme, which we will report early next year.

The lack of nurses in social care means that the use of agency nurses is high and that can have an effect on someone’s continuity of care. Care provider HC-One wants to change the structure of nursing in their homes, by aiming to provide better quality of care. HC-One’s plan is to develop senior carers into nursing assistants, trained up to assist with medication, care planning, wound care and catheter care. Nursing assistants will get an increased hourly rate and a nurse mentor to support them.

Walt, whose wife Margaret has Alzheimer’s, is impressed with the new role of nursing assistant at the Oaklands care home in Nottingham. Walt says:

I’ve noticed since the new role that tasks are getting done much quicker and the Nurses have more support. Not having agency nurses makes me feel more comfortable as I know the staff know my wife and her needs so she is well taken care of. They have involved me as a relative in what has been happening and I appreciate that.

SCIE’s chief executive, Tony Hunter, says:

We’re delighted to support this programme. Nursing assistants are able to notice early signs and symptoms that a resident might be displaying, which tells them something is wrong or has changed. For instance, a resident’s speech could become slurred. Often, medical errors happen because agency staff can be introduced too quickly and may have no familiarity with residents’ needs. This plan sends a great message out about creating a pathway for senior carers to step up and receive training opportunities to work alongside nurses.

HC-One’s chairman, Dr Chai Patel, says:

Delivering the kindest possible quality care is our absolute top priority. To do this it’s essential that we have the right nursing and care staff, who have the necessary skills and commitment, and really know the Residents. When looking at how we address the national shortage of nurses, we found that many staff in care support roles have been fulfilling a role that was far beyond the remit of their job description. These colleagues have shown fantastic dedication. We want to reflect that amazing commitment and support their career development, using their knowledge, skills and experience to improve the quality of care for Residents. This is why we’ve launched the nursing assistants programme. Our staff surveys show how important it for colleagues to feel valued and able to make a difference to the lives of the people we care for. The nursing assistants programme lets us show just how much we value these staff, and the really important role they play in giving Residents the kindest care.

Alison Innes-Farquhar, Director of People Development, HC-One says:

Through the active research that SCIE has completed for HC-One, they have proven that the Care Assistant Development Programme improves the quality and continuity of residents’ care, whilst reducing our reliance on agency nursing staff. It is a complex, and far reaching programme. SCIE immediately grasped the complexity of what we were doing, and were able to provide us with almost immediate feedback during the course of the evaluation. We were able this to use to improve the quality of what we were doing. We were delighted to work with SCIE throughout the implementation of the new Nursing Assistant role. I would recommend them strongly to others who are seeking evaluators of their programmes or initiatives.

To join the programme, senior carers have to show a strong commitment to learning, complete tough competency-based written tests and complete a comprehensive work book.


To undergo the training, there is a certain set of criteria that Senior Carers must meet before applying for the role. They must be compliant in all the current learning, have completed or be in the process of completing an NVQ Level 3, and have worked in Health or Social care sector for a minimum of two years. If selected they will go through a process of interview and written assessment, after which they can proceed to the next level which is enrolment to the Nursing Assistant programme.


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