Brexit Uncertainty Means No End In Sight to RN Recruitment Crisis

Fears about Brexit have stoked further concerns about the recruitment and retention of Registered Nurses across the UK in 2019. Many care homes providing nursing care report longstanding difficulties in filling nurse vacancies and, in some cases, homes have either chosen to de-register nursing beds or in the case of a Four Seasons-owned home on the Isle of Wight, close completely.

A number of London-based NHS Trusts have now offered to help EU nurses with the costs of securing “settled status” in the UK but until the details of a final Brexit deal are known, there will be continued uncertainty about the supply of Registered Nurses for the foreseeable future.

As the recruitment marketplace for nurses becomes more competitive than ever before, read on to find out how you can recruit and retain the Registered Nurses you need.

Recruit and Retain

Historically, care home operators have been seen by nurses as the poor relation to the NHS and local authority employers. The availability of benefits such as an attractive pension scheme, access to sick pay and opportunities for career progression mean that the NHS remains the first choice employer for many nurses and most care homes have to accept that they cannot compete with these benefits. However, there are other ways of attracting nurses to your service and retaining them.

4 Cost-Effective Steps to Filling RN Vacancies in a Competitive Recruitment Market 

  1. Flexible working patterns: Despite its benefits, the NHS often fails to offer the flexibility that staff need to combine work and family responsibilities. Think about how you can develop flexible working patterns such as annualised hours, term-time working or set shift patterns to accommodate childcare, that may not be available within the NHS and include these in your recruitment materials.
  2. Attract older staff: Many nurses leave the profession before retirement age as a result of stress, ‘burn out’ or simply the need to scale back their working life. However, this creates an opportunity for employers willing to offer roles that are attractive to older nurses, including part-time hours, shorter shifts and a return to more ‘hands on’ care outside of an acute hospital setting.
  3. Don’t neglect your existing team: Retaining your current staff is far preferable to having to recruit, induct and train newcomers so make sure you value your existing team. Now’s the time to make sure you’re in close contact with your nurses, understanding their needs, providing the support they require and rewarding them appropriately. Being proactive, supportive and addressing problems before they arise will reduce the likelihood of them moving on.
  4. Keep in touch with your leavers: Research from the USA suggests that staff who move into new jobs which they don’t enjoy, rarely consider returning to their old job due to worries about how they’ll be perceived. However, in many cases, these individuals would consider returning if they were approached. Don’t be afraid of trying this, by keeping in touch with nurses who have left on good terms and who could still make a useful contribution to your team. Measures such as sending an occasional -mail, Christmas or birthday card, wishing them well and inviting them to keep in touch may be enough to encourage a return to your service if they are unhappy.

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