E-nursing homes: transforming access to nurses in nursing homes in response to the staffing crisis
The UK is facing a nationwide staffing crisis within adult social care, due to difficulties in recruiting and retaining registered nurses. Current interpretation of legislation means nursing homes must always have the physical presence of a registered nurse on duty within the home. With the shortage of registered nurses increasing, reliance on agency workers is commonplace, a practice impacting service cost and continuity of care. Lack of innovation to tackle this issue means the question of how to transform service delivery to combat staffing shortages is open for debate. The potential for technology to augment the provision of care was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article the authors present one possible solution focused on the provision of digital nursing care within nursing homes. Anticipated benefits include enhanced accessibility of nursing roles, reduced risk of viral spread and opportunities for upskilling staff. However, challenges include the current interpretation of legislation.
The UK is currently experiencing a nationwide shortage of nurses with around 40 000 nursing vacancies across health and social care in England in 2020 (House of Commons, 2020). The number of unfulfilled staff vacancies in adult social care has steadily been rising since 2014 (Care Quality Commission (CQC), 2019). A shortage of registered nurses (RNs) in nursing homes is having far-reaching effects (Mitchell, 2021). Without adequate RN cover, nursing homes are either forced to close or re-register as residential homes. This has a huge knock-on impact on the number of services that can be offered in particular regions, meaning people who cannot access services locally are forced to be separated from their families. Closures and re-registration also increase pressure on NHS services that must make up for the mismatch between service provision and need (CQC, 2019).
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