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How does nursing in a care home differ from nursing in other environments?

Most of society would describe a nurse as someone who restores a person back to health when experiencing a period of ill health, which often occurs within a hospital environment. Although this connotation describes an important aspect of a nurse’s role, it doesn’t consider the wider responsibilities of a nurse, more specifically nurses who care for people in a care home setting.

Robust assessment, escalation, advocacy, autonomy, and leadership skills are but a few that all nurses in a care home develops and refines. But nursing in a care home is very different to nursing in a hospital.

Although nurses have the skills and expertise to care for residents who are suffering from ill health, their focus is on maintaining health, and living a good quality of life that is person-centred around the residents and families’ choices. Strong relationships are formed between staff and residents, with residents often referred to as “extended members of the family”. The challenges, successes and impacts of nursing within a care home should not be diminished but shared with the next generation of the nursing workforce.

One nursing student said, “I never considered a career in a nursing home as a nurse, and I think that's mainly because, until now, I never understood the role of a nurse in this environment”.

Historically, the focus of student nurse placements has been within the NHS. These placements usually have minimal or no time spent in the social care sector, which has created a lack of understanding between health and social care sectors.

A care home is an ideal placement to increase the breadth of learning opportunities and gain a greater understanding into further types of nursing. Welsh Government’s long-term plan for health and social care has seen the implementation of A Healthier Wales, which has highlighted the importance of a cohesive sustainable workforce. Raising the awareness and increasing the breadth of experience may prompt a student aspiring nurse to consider a different career pathway within health and social care.