By Dr Hilda Hayo, Chief Admiral Nurse and CEO at Dementia UK.
Health and social care have seen significant pressures over the last few years: fewer resources, an ageing population, a growing need for services and an ageing workforce who are retiring from the profession. This has resulted in the remaining workforce becoming overstretched, having a lower morale and, at times, facing health issues.
It is important that we retain as many health and social care workers as possible so we do not lose their expertise, commitment, values and experience. In order to do this, employers need to think in a different way about retention and employee wellbeing. The charitable sector is able to do this in my opinion whilst also supporting the needs of the population.
When I came into the nursing profession in 1980 I did not foresee that I would become the Chief Executive Officer of a charity. It was expected that as a nurse I would work in either a hospital or community. Times have changed and nurses find themselves working in a myriad of roles within health and social care. However, there are still many nurses who do not consider a nursing career in the charitable sector.
This can be for many reasons, including lack of understanding about the charitable sector, job security, pension provision or indeed scope for career development. Not only is there job security, but also more scope for career and professional development. If nurses start a role in a charity, then they may continue to work in a clinical capacity – our specialist dementia Admiral Nurses are testament to this. This contrasts with traditional health and social care settings where there are relatively few posts beyond band 7 that can maintain a clinical focus.
Nurses have many transferable skills that would be of great value to the charity sector including clinical expertise, solution focused problem solving, organisational ability, evidence based interventions and management of resources.
From my experience the charitable sector offers a unique opportunity for nurses. Nurses after all provide such an integral role to society as confidantes, counsellors and consultants, for example. They need an environment where they’re allowed to specialise whilst also receiving professional development; they need job satisfaction and they also need a commitment to their wellbeing. The charity sector could be the way forward for many nurses.