Care home nursing fee gets 7.4% boost in ‘win for sector’

NHS-funded nursing care payment will rise from £219.71 to £235.88 from 1 April 2024, as representative body Care England hails work to ensure rate reflects costs of services

Nurse helping woman rehabilitate in care home
Photo: Rido/Adobe Stock

The fee paid to care homes to fund nursing costs will rise by 7.4% from April 2024 in what leaders have described as a “in for the sector”, the government announced today.

The standard weekly NHS-funded nursing care (FNC) rate will rise from £219.71 to £235.88, while the higher rate will increase from £302.25 to £324.50, said the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

The higher rate is paid to the relatively few residents who received it when the three previous bands were merged in 2007.

The DHSC said the scale of the increase had been based on data supplied by social care providers on their costs, which had then been quality assured.

‘Win for the sector’

Care England, which represents independent providers, hailed the increase, which follows rises of 5% in 2023 and 11.5% in 2022, as a “win for the care sector”.

“Care England has worked tirelessly with the Department of Health and Social Care over nine years to ensure that the FNC rate reflects the true cost of providing nursing care,” said chief executive Martin Green.

“This latest uplift represents a win for the care sector operating in a challenging time and is a testament to our collective efforts.”

About funded nursing care

Funded nursing care is designed to finance services provided to care home residents by a registered nurse involving either the provision of care or the planning, supervision or delegation of the provision of care.

It is paid to care homes in England by NHS integrated care boards (ICBs) as, under section 22 of the Care Act 2014, registered nursing costs generally cannot be met by a local authority.

However, Green warned that the legal position on FNC needed to be reviewed in the light of the increasing complexity of needs met by residential care homes.

“The government must now lend consideration to the legal definition of FNC to ensure its fit for the future given the increased levels of complexity seen in residential care, and how care providers have had to adapt their services to meet the ever-changing needs of their residents,” he said.

‘Need to reward and recognise social care nurses’

Green also stressed the importance of care home nursing staff being “recognised and rewarded accordingly, in line with NHS nurses”.

Care homes have struggled to retain nurses in recent years, with the turnover for adult social care nurses hitting 44.9% in 2021-22, before falling to a still high 32.6% in 2022-23, according to Skills for Care data. This was far higher than the turnover for NHS registered nurses and health visits at the same time (10.9%).

However, separate Skills for Care data has shown vacancy rates for registered nurses falling, from 11.3% in March 2023 to 8.2% in January of this year.

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