Nursing associates

Nursing pages 1

A nursing associate is a new member of the nursing team who will provide care for people in health and social care settings. It has been created to bridge the skills gap between care assistants and registered nurses. This role is only being used and regulated in England. 

A nursing associate is not a substitute for a registered nurse. The intention is that by employing a nursing associate, who is registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) having completed an approved training course, it can free up the time of a registered nurse to focus on more complex clinical duties.

Skills for Care is supporting the sector in increasing the number of nursing associates being trained and employed in social care settings. We are working closely with Health Education England (HEE).

Emily Burton recently graduated as a nursing associate and is now working in social care. The NMC has produced a case study about Emily where she shares her experience of becoming a newly-qualified and registered nursing associate. 

New films about the nursing associate role

We’re really excited to launch a suite of films about the nursing associate role, which amongst other things, is a fantastic way of developing your existing staff.

The main film tells you what a nursing associate is, how it fits into the nursing family and what the benefits are of employing a nursing associate. It features people from the Lincolnshire partnership who were part of the first test site, and there are now three registered nursing associates in Lincolnshire care homes.

These people are the focus of six additional short films in which they talk about the nursing associate role and its benefits from their different perspectives, and these are:

  • Emily Gillott, a registered nursing associate
  • Lisa McFarlane, registered manager at Drovers Call Care Home
  • Adam Knights, managing director of Knights Care
  • Carolyn Nice, assistant director at Lincolnshire County Council
  • Melanie Weatherly, chair of Lincolnshire Care Association
  • Mark Turton, workforce development manager at Lincolnshire Care Association.




To speak to someone about the nursing associate role and programme, please either email or call Wendy Leighton, Project Manager at Skills for Care on 07442 508024.

Nursing associates will have a foundation degree and pre-registration training typically involves two years of higher education, including placements where services are provided at home, near to home and in hospital. 

At the moment, the only way to train is through a recognised nursing associate programme, often an apprenticeship, at one of the test sites across England via the Health Education England programme. It’s currently based on HEE’s curriculum framework, updated to reflect the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) standards now being introduced. 

There may be an option to be funded by the apprenticeship levy if programmes meet the NMC standards. 

After 26 July 2019, new students can only train on a nursing associate programme that has been approved by the NMC. 

Once students have completed their training, they must apply for registration with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) before they can be employed and practise as a nursing associate. The register is now open. 

The standards of proficiency set out what all nursing associates will know and be able to do when they join the NMC register. All nursing associates must meet these standards in order to be considered by the NMC as capable of safe and effective nursing associate practice.

Like other regulated professionals, nursing associates can continue to train and develop as part of their career pathway, and will be subject to re-validation in the same way as all other NMC registrants.

The first wave of students are due to qualify in January 2019 and once qualified will apply to be on the NMC register. The majority of those who initially join the register will be employed by the organisation where they were employed as a trainee/apprentice. The great news is that more students are either already involved in a programme or are due to start in 2019. You can search the NMC register to look up the registration of a nursing associate.

You could apply to Health Education England to become part of a test site partnership which delivers education and training for nursing associate trainees. Please visit the Health Education England website to find out how to do this.

Employers should consider employing trainee or apprentice nursing associates. This is a great opportunity to offer career progression for existing staff as well as a means of recruiting individuals motivated to train.

Prior to 26 July 2019: In order to employ your own trainees or apprentices you will need to be part of a test site partnership of employers working in partnership with an education provider to support and deliver the education and training of trainee/apprentice nursing associates. For more information about this please visit the Health Education England website or email Skills for Care for further advice.

If you are a large national organisation with multiple sites spread across the country, there are a few options. Find out what these are.

Over the past few months, we've started to establish a community of practice to support the development and uptake of the nursing associate role in social care settings. Through sharing experiences, successes and challenges, innovation and solutions we can learn together as we seek to train and employ nursing associates as part of the nursing workforce in this sector. We're now further developing the nursing associate community of practice by encouraging more people to join through workshops held in different parts of the country. It would be great to see you at one of our workshops.

  • Monday 5 August, 11:00-15:15, Sketchley Grange Hotel, Hinckley
  • Wednesday 25 September, 10:30-15:00, Chamber of Commerce, Manchester
  • Monday 30 September, 11:00-15:15, Skills for Care, Tavistock Square, London