I was privileged to be invited to CNO Summit back in November 2023 – the most inspiring two days I have had for a while.

I was at the Summit representing Adult Social Care, in my role at the QNI as Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Champions network Lead and as Social Care Nursing Advisory Council (SCNAC) Chair.

The summit started with Martha’s story with her mum telling us of her tragic experience that led to her death and ultimately to Martha’s Rule. Martha shouldn’t have died, and concerns from her parents and Martha should’ve been listened to. This reminded me that we always need to remember that the people we support (of whatever age) and those closest to them, are experts in their own care.

Dame Ruth May, CNO England gave a keynote speech unveiling her new 7Ps as part of CNO Strategy:

  • Protecting our planet
  • Prevention, Protection, Promotion and reducing health inequalities.
  • Person Centred Practice
  • People Safety and Quality Improvement
  • Professional Leadership and Integration
  • People and Workforce Development
  • Professional Culture

We heard from youth members of NHS England Children’s and Young Persons’ Transformation Board. It was enlightening listening to three exceptional young people about their wishes for the future NHS. The youth members’ message was: “Make decisions about children’s and young persons’ services with children and young people. It’s us using your services.”

The young people also hoped for a more sustainable NHS, one of Ruth’s priorities in her new strategy. Conversations about sustainability are becoming more frequent and the QNI are currently seeking applications from nurses to run sustainability projects in the community this year.

Integration and Person-Centred Care

The summit gave plenty of opportunities to network. As Chair for Somerset ICB SCNAC, I was able to meet my Chief Nurse, as well as the Somerset NHS Foundation Trust Chief Nurse. This enabled a face-to-face conversation about how we can work together in the future, integrating Social Care, Community Health and the hospital sector, health and social care for the benefit of the people we serve. Amanda Pritchard, the NHS Chief Executive reflected in her keynote speech on how we can enable more people to live healthier and longer lives and this only being possible through integrated working across systems.

I also attended a breakout session about person-centred care, another focus of Dame Ruth’s strategy. This session gave me time to reflect and think about whether I am truly person-centred and what does that mean. I think I am, but am I really?..

Day 2 started with a session by Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett, founder of Helpforce and Co-Chair of NHS Volunteering Taskforce, about the future of volunteering in the NHS. I reflected on how volunteers could support Adult Social Care providers. There was a discussion about practical ways volunteers can help – for example collecting prescriptions for care homes. It’s also time to thank our QNI Keep in Touch (KiT) volunteers, who support retired Queen’s Nurses or community nurses, and the Talk to Us service offering emotional support for registered nurses working in the community for the incredible work they do.

Adult Social Care

The bar was raised for Adult Social Care at the summit, both having representatives at summit, but also leading a panel discussion: Adult Social Care: Possibilities, Passion and Progress opened the narrative to integrated working.

The session gave an insight into the reality and complexity of Adult Social Care Nursing, including the rewards of supporting a dying person with their last wishes, to resilience and challenges of isolated working. This was also a reminder that Social Care Nursing is diverse and includes settings other than Care Home Nursing.

On the panel we had a nurse working in domiciliary care supporting people at home. This could be children with life-limiting conditions, people with complex physical and learning disabilities, or people who live alone with no family support nearing the end of life and want to die at home. There was also an occupational health nurse that providing social care support to the farming community in her area.

Health Inequalities

Another focus of Dame Ruth’s strategy is prevention, promotion and protection and reducing health inequalities. Listening to Professor Jamie Waterall, Deputy Chief Public Health Nurse for England, Sarah Gigg, Deputy Director Nursing, Midwifery and AHP’s UKHSA and Kendra Schneller MBE, Nurse Practitioner Homeless & Inclusion Health, speaking about these in a breakout session I reflected on where do Social Care Nurses see themselves in the public health role, and how do we address health equity? I believe it’s the heart of our work, but these are questions I want to take back in my roles supporting Social Care Nursing.

The session on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion discussed combatting discriminatory practices in health and care. Whilst progress has been made, we still have a long way to go. The takeaway for me is we all have a voice and we all need to use it to speak up when we see or hear it.

The summit has given me a chance to reflect on the current climate within health and social care, our challenges but also the progress and possibilities we have, especially for a more integrated approach. The opportunity to meet and network with so many nurse leaders was fantastic and I’m looking forward to putting these experiences and opportunities into practice in my roles as QNI IPC Champions Network Lead, SCNAC Chair and as an Independent Nurse supporting Adult Social Care.

Charlotte Fry QN

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