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Finding new employment: how organisations can take care of the carers

Posted by: Tracy Bolan

From staff shortages to uncertainty over Brexit and the status of EU workers, and an aging population, nurses and healthcare professionals have faced significant challenges in recent years. Add to that the introduction of the special measures framework by the Care Quality Commission in 2013, and the pressure on front-line staff has been mounting. Now more than ever nurses may feel that they need significant persuasion to stay with an employer, or an attractive offer to join a new organisation.

Understanding the issues that matter to nurses

Hospitals, GP surgeries, and care homes that have a clear understanding of how various challenges impact on their staff – and are taking steps to alleviate those challenges – are a good bet when looking for a new role.

The most prominent issue facing healthcare professionals is a chronic shortage of staff. Not only does this place strain on the individual staff members, it puts patients in danger as well. In September 2017, the Royal College of Nursing published a report on Safe and Effective Staffing; among the various findings the most shocking is perhaps the statistic that 71% of those nurses surveyed reported that on their last shift, the ratio of patients to nurses exceeded levels recommended for safe care. While this may come as no surprise to those at the sharp end it’s undeniable that the report makes for emotive reading, and confirms the high levels of stress felt by many nurses when care is compromised due to staff shortages.

Closely linked with a shortfall of staff and compromised care is the negative media attention it attracts. The press often scrutinises issues in the NHS and pays particular attention when things go wrong. This interest is understandable, given that lives are on the line, and the fact that the NHS is so tied up with government policy. Nonetheless, negative attention can be demoralising, distracting and disheartening to many whose job it is to care for others. Trusts and organisations that are performing well are a good option and suggest that negative attention will be less of an issue.

What support to look out for when seeking a new role

Frustratingly, there are no quick or easy fixes to the problems faced by nurses. Positivity and recognition of the excellent work carried out can raise the morale of the whole staff, as well as individuals, so look for organisations that are forthcoming with praise.

Organisations that put patients first, despite challenges, may be more appealing. Nursing is a caring profession and, as the report from the Royal College of Nursing suggests, being able to carry out that care to the best of their ability is a top priority for many nurses. A trust that backs its staff on this fundamental part of the job clearly cares about both patients and employees.

Linking closely to the idea of positivity and praise, look out for organisations that play up successes and good news stories. Maybe management share good news at handover meetings, praise individuals for good work or even invite the media to events and fundraisers. Celebrating positive outcomes, as well as effort, shows that an organisation values the work that nurses do.

Brexit: the shadow of uncertainty

With the health sector relying so heavily on migrant workers, the issues surrounding Brexit weigh heavily on the minds of many nurses and other front-line staff. Opinions as to whether numbers of EU nurses working in the UK are rising or falling are conflicting: the Guardian reports that numbers are falling sharply, while The Times suggests that the figures have not changed. Whichever way you interpret the evidence, the uncertain status of EU nationals in the UK puts stress on everyone, from patients to staff. Whether you’re looking for a new job, or considering a transfer, look out for organisations that make it clear that migrant workers are valued in the here and now, no matter what their legal status in the UK may be in the future.

Finding a new job and an employer that is positive, appreciative and forward-thinking can be difficult, especially in a climate of uncertainty, financial pressure and staff shortages. Despite the many challenges, knowing that management support you to do the best you can, and recognise your hard work, is a good signal that an organisation is worth sticking with.

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