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The factors supporting the retention of registered nurses in adult social care

Rationale for this study

As our recent scoping review found there is not much evidence about the work of registered nurses (RNs) employed in England’s adult social care sector (Cornes and Manthorpe 2022). Growing numbers of people need support to live well in this country, and for some this help comes from RNs working in Adult Social Care (ASC). Effective nurse recruitment and retention strategies deployed in the NHS (that focus mainly on improving terms and conditions and international recruitment) run the risk of exacerbating problems for RN recruitment and retention in ASC and limiting the opportunities for other parts of the sector to benefit from nurses’ skills. This study will take place in a context in which few studies have investigated why RNs are attracted to the ASC sector and why the majority remain.


The aim of this research is to help inform policy and approaches to recruitment and to shape retention strategies and inform the development of the future social care nursing workforce, including possible ways to increase practice placements, the quality of clinical supervision for student nurses in adult social care placements, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and development of social care as a post-qualifying specialism. Current developments include work by the Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care with Skills for Care and with the Council of Deans, which is considering the possibility of all student nurses having a placement in ASC. Work is also under way with the Queen’s Institute for Nursing (QNI) to inform the development of a learning module by Health Education England (HEE).


A qualitative study using in-depth interviews with up to 40 participants in the following groups (some of whom may overlap):

  • RNs who have been working in the same organisation for 3 years or more
  • RNs who have been working in their present role for less than 12 months
  • RNs working in ASC provision other than care homes
  • RNs in owner or management roles in ASC, eg care home or home care owners, managers, senior leads in large providers
  • Recent internationally recruited RNs working in ASC
  • People who are RNs (or recent RNs) who have recently left the social care sector
  • Representatives of people with experience of receiving social care nursing in different settings, including younger and older adults, and their family members/carers.


The study runs till the end of 2023.

Dissemination Plan

To produce a report for the Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care at DHSC and NIHR stakeholders.

Project status: Ongoing