Skills for Care

The importance of the social care voice in integration

16 May 2023

5 min read

Jo-Anne Wilson

  • Integration
  • Nursing

Jo-Anne Wilson, Chair of a Social Care Nursing Advisory Council, shares what the role of Social Care Nursing Advisory Councils are and why it’s important that the social care voice in included in the integration agenda.

Being passionate about social care and especially social care nursing, I was delighted to hear about the creation of Social Care Nursing Advisory Councils (SCNAC) from my Skillsvfor Care locality manager earlier this year.

Having worked in social care for over 20 years, I’ve no doubt about the impact which nurses working in social care and their colleagues have, and the important role social care within the community has alongside healthcare. Nursing in social care needs fair recognition in the integration agenda if it’s to have meaningful impact.

With the creation of SCNACs, we’ve been given a platform, a seat at the table, a voice, but what do we want to say?

The appointment of Deborah Sturdy, Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care, was a significant step forward for social care. Finally, we have a strong and enthusiastic advocate. A leader for our sector. Deborah has been working tirelessly to highlight the social care agenda, the skills and professionalism that can be found within social care nursing and the perceptions of social care as a positive career option.

When the Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) were formed in July 2022, there was no formal representation from the social care sector. Deborah began working on the concept of the SCNACs in each of the 42 ICSs. This has been supported by the Florence Nightingale Foundation, who are providing a development programme for chairs of the SCNAC.

The chairs of these councils are from a range of social care backgrounds. All have the skills, confidence, and knowledge to collaborate and seek solutions within their ICS. One of the roles of the Chair is to work alongside the Chief Nurse in each ICS to ensure that the challenges, priorities, and successes within social care are recognised and discussed.

Each SCNAC will consist of about 10 people, just enough to ensure meaningful conversation and decision making, whilst still ensuring diversity and fair representation across the sector. The councils are in the process of being established so this is a great opportunity for people working within social care to step forward if they would like to participate.

The SCNAC will act as a platform, working in partnership to raise the profile of social care and social care nursing; supporting adult social care workforce development; highlighting local and national issues, and helping to set priorities and agree agendas, that include social care as an equal voice.

It’s important that we use our opportunity wisely, I’m sure there will be the need to be tenacious at times and to be persistent with our ask. We have the chance to share our vision, to champion our causes, expose health care inequalities and underfunding, and to be a critical companion when difficult decisions are to be made.

Social care nurses are at the heart of many person-centred solutions. By talking together, listening to each other and sharing ideas, we’ll be able to find mutual solutions to issues that affect both sectors and the people who draw on care and support.

We’re used to working collaboratively, innovating, sharing decision making and creating positive outcomes. By having this voice, I hope we can make sure that there’s better understanding and respect for nursing in adult social care, as well as insight into the wider social care sector.

Across the NHS and social care, we’re providing care and support to the same people, maybe at different stages of their journey. Working alongside the Chief Nurse will give us the opportunity to join the dots between health and social care and see the bigger picture.

Over the next few months, there will be a number of podcasts, blogs and publications about the SCNAC. This is our chance to really elevate the significance, raise the profile and reinforce the value of social care and social care nursing.

It’s important that we don’t waste this opportunity. Get involved, contact your local SCNAC chair and become part of this exciting initiative, to really influence the design and delivery of integrated services.


Hear more from Jo-Anne on our The care exchange podcast.

Find out more about #UnderstandingIntegration on our spotlight page.

Topic areas

#WeAreSocialCareNursing: why I work as a nurse in complex care

Recruiting and retaining together: how ICSs can support with recruiting and retaining