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Nurse Associates in Social Care

The What: What is a Nurse Associate?

The Nursing Associate (NA) is a new regulated role within the nursing team who will provide care and support service users and is intended to address a skills gap between health and care assistants and registered nurses. The Nursing Associate is a stand-alone role but also provides a progression route into graduate level nursing.

Nursing Associate’s are trained to work with people of all ages and across all four fields of nursing; adult, children’s, mental health and learning disability. They provide care for people who have mental, physical, cognitive and behavioural care needs, those living with dementia, the elderly and for people at the end of their life. It is intended that the role will enable registered nurses to focus on more complex clinical duties.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council became the legal regulator for Nursing Associates in July 2018. The nursing associate part of the Nursing and Midwifery Council register opened on 28 January 2019 and all trainee Nursing Associates who complete the two year program will be entered onto the register.

For further information on Nursing Associate role, visit the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the NHS health careers websites.

Why: Why have Nurse Associates in Social Care nursing services?

The 2 year Nursing Associate apprenticeship programme provides a development opportunity for care workers. The program is intended to enable non registered people working within the health and care sector who have the right values, skills and knowledge to become a nursing associate, providing valued support for the nursing team

The Nursing Associate role also provides a real career pathway as qualified Nursing Associates who have potential to undertake further degree training can progress even further to become a registered nurse. This will enable nursing providers to ‘grow their own’ nurses which could help with recruitment and retention difficulties within the sector.

The How: How can care providers access this opportunity for their workers?

The qualification is a 2 year foundation degree (level 5) and is delivered within an apprenticeship. Levy paying organisations will utilise their own levy for this, and for non-levy organisations, they can access Kent County Council’s levy to fully fund their trainee Nursing Associate. In December 2018, the first two trainee Nursing Associates from social care joined the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust Nursing Associate program, which is delivered by Canterbury University.

The next Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells cohort is due to start in September 2019 and there will also be a new program for the East of the county with Canterbury hospital’s Nursing Associate program.

Anyone interested in accessing either the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust or Canterbury Nursing Associate programs please email Penny Lawlor ( for further details.