Scarlett MacDonald – Raising The Profile Of Nurses In The Social Care Sector

9th May 2024

As Caring Homes marks its 30th anniversary this year, Regional Manager, Scarlett MacDonald celebrates 10 years with the company – and 30 years in the healthcare industry, a career which began as a carer and student nurse.

A Hands On Leader and a Nurse First

Scarlett is warm and approachable – so down to earth that before guests arrived for the official opening of the newest Caring Home (Tarring Manor in Worthing, Sussex), she was running around in a t-shirt and leggings making sure everything was impeccable before changing into a dress at the very last minute. ‘Hands on’ is Scarlett’s leadership style and the managers of the five homes in her area are more likely to see her in her nurse’s uniform than a business suit, walking the floors, meeting residents, coaching the team and instinctively giving support. Regardless of her extensive experience, academic achievements and outstanding reputation in her field, Scarlett is a nurse first, and more than that, a passionate advocate for nurses in social care.

Scarlett qualified as a nurse in Scotland and started her career in the acute services working in Burns, Theatre, Accident and Emergency, also spending time in military trauma units. Scarlett moved from the NHS to the private sector in 2006, when she trained at The Royal College of Surgeons to qualify as a peri operative specialist practitioner. Later, during a period working in business development, Scarlett discovered the care industry, where she was able to excel in her clinical role while utilising her business qualifications. Scarlett joined Caring Homes in 2014, working as a Home Manager for 5 years before being promoted to her current role.

Social Care Nursing – A Great Place to Learn and Develop

Scarlett is committed to driving the highest possible standards of nursing, alongside delivering the person-centred care that is integral to the Caring Homes ethos. Making a difference each day is Scarlett's motivation and she is determined to ensure that the voice of nurses in social care is heard, and that their reputation for being well trained and qualified is acknowledged.

Scarlett explained, “There are more nurses and carers in social care than there are in the NHS, and nursing care is delivered at a more autonomous level. To start with, the environment is very different in a care home, which is designed to be a home community environment. There’s a level of comfort you wouldn’t expect in a hospital – carpet, for example - but that brings challenges, so we need to meet the highest standards all round. Nursing decisions are also more complex in a care setting; there’s more critical interaction and no doctors to escalate an issue to, so you need to be trained and prepared for the responsibility. There’s now a specialist qualification in social care nursing, which makes it a great place to learn and develop your career”.

Shaping the Agenda for Nursing in the Future

Scarlett’s association with the Outstanding Society, an organisation which promotes best practice within adult social care throughout England, prompted her to lead Caring Homes involvement in the VIVALDI Social Care Study. This was designed to expand on findings from the original study which was launched in 2020 to investigate COVID-19 infections in care homes. Scarlett feels it’s important to play our part and, through research and up to date methodology, help the sector understand how to deal more effectively with the range of infections that are common in care homes, and be better prepared if we’re hit by another pandemic.

Scarlett has continued to learn and develop throughout her career and is still a practicing nurse, a qualified prescriber and a contracted trainer for the Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care Board (ICB) – the NHS organisations responsible for planning health services in their local areas. The breadth of Scarlett’s commitment and experience has led to her recent appointment as Co- Chair for the South East region of Social Care Nurse Advisory Councils (SCNACs), by the Department of Health and Social Care. The SCNACs focuses on raising the profile of social care nursing, working with the nursing and care workforce to ensure that the specialist voice and expertise of the care industry is available to senior nursing leaders in the ICB. It’s about giving social care a role in shaping the agenda for nursing in the future.

Championing Nursing in Social Care

On 12th May, Caring Homes will be marking International Nurse’s Day, which is celebrated each year on Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Later that week, the Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF), a UK-based charity that provides leadership development and support for nurses and midwives, will hold its annual commemoration service at Westminster Abbey. The service is held to celebrate the graduation of over 2,200 nurses from the Foundation, where they have achieved a senior level qualification based on connecting, leading and influencing others.

In honour of the Foundation’s namesake, a symbolic lamp, central to the event, is carried by a nurse into the abbey. This year, the lamp will be carried by a nurse from the social care sector for the very first time. Scarlett, who is attending the ceremony said, “I’m so pleased for Emily Pimm, and I share her excitement at being the first to represent social care nurses at such an iconic celebration of nursing. It feels as though our sector is finally getting the recognition it deserves”.

In October, Scarlett has been invited to judge the ‘Nursing in Social Care’ category at the Nursing Times Awards and with the year ahead full of potential for Caring Homes, Scarlett feels there’s never been a better time for nurses to join the group.

“Caring Homes is one of the leaders in the sector”, Scarlett explained, “but we’re always looking for ways of progressing and improving the care we give to our residents, and our nurses play a big part in that. It’s a great place to learn and develop. I also love the fact that there’s a strong female presence within our leadership, which I think encourages kindness and compassion at every level, something that’s always been important to me in trying to make a difference as a nurse”.

At Caring Homes, we run a network of high-quality care, nursing and dementia care homes with wonderful facilities to suit every kind of resident. Each of our wonderful care homes have beautiful landscaped gardens with space for residents to explore and feel at peace.

Discover our national network of person-centred nursing and care homes today, and book your viewing by calling 0808 169 8661

Scarlett MacDonald at Broadbridge Park
Scarlett MacDonald at Tarring Manor

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