Nurses in social care


Key issues 

Almost 50,000 nurses are now employed in adult social care and work in a variety of care settings. Their contribution plays a vital part in a team of care staff that support people with increasingly complex needs. 

But - the recruitment and retention of nurses in the health and social care system is under significant pressure. 34% of nurses were estimated to have left their role within the past 12 months which is approximately 16,800 leavers.

There is a national shortage of nurses and too few make the choice to work in social care. 

To help inform the debate on this issue and to try and help, Skills for Care has published a number of resources: 


This discussion paper from Skills for Care and the National Care Forum acknowledges the national shortage of registered nurses and explores the reasons why too few make the choice to work in adult social care settings.

The paper discusses what factors contribute to nurses leaving their role and the sector and what we can do for the future of this workforce.


This briefing shares the findings from analysis of NMDS-SC data and presents a profile of the current nursing workforce. Key findings include:

  • 85% of nurses worked in care home services with nursing and were employed almost entirely within the independent sector
  • There was an estimated vacancy rate of 9% for nurses; this gives an average of 4,500 vacancies at any one time.
  • The mean annual pay rate for registered nurses in 2015 was £24,300. Over the same time period the NHS pay band 5 was around £21,500 to £27,900.  


This detailed report uses analysis from the National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC). Key findings include:

  • 36% of nurses started in their current role within the past 12 months - this is approximately 17,900 nurses.
  • They have on average 13 years of experience working in the adult social care sector
  • The average age of a registered nurse was 47 years old.
  • Almost a third of registered nurses are aged over 55 so may retire within the next 10 years.
  • 61% of nurses had a British nationality and 39% non-British (this varies by region).

Nursing in social care

As an employer, if you struggle to find the right people to take on a nursing role in your organisation, take a look at the videos we've produced.  

Hear from a nursing home manager, clinical manager, senior support worker, assistant nurse, university practice learning advisor and student nurse about why they chose to work in social care and what they enjoy about their job.  Watch the videos here.