How to shift careers from NHS to social care

If you’re a nurse working in the NHS and feeling the strain, you’re not alone.

With challenges like not being able to control when your shifts are scheduled, little flexibility for taking time off, and relentless work days where you’re rushed off your feet and left emotionally drained – nobody would blame you for considering a different career. Before you think about leaving nursing behind, however, why not consider switching to working in social care?

In social care nursing, you can put your hard-won experience and skills to good use, while trying out a different pace and set of workplace expectations.

Here, we’ll give a rundown of the differences between nursing in the NHS and social care, as well as tips for how to switch…

Why switch to social care?

1. A more flexible schedule

This is the big one. In the NHS, long hours and inflexible work patterns can take a toll on your work-life balance. Social care, in contrast, can often operates on more regular working hours, giving you the ability to plan your life outside of work. If you choose to work with an app like Florence, you also get to pick and choose your hours – when, where and how often you work.

2. Holistic patient care

Nursing on a busy NHS ward sometimes means you need to limit the depth of your interaction with patients.

In social care nursing, however, you’ll often work more closely with people and their families, getting to know them and their needs on a more one-to-one level, over a longer period of time.

This can feel really professionally satisfying, as you’re able to take a more holistic role, rather than feeling like you’re fire-fighting or working with ‘one of many’ on a conveyor belt (which is obviously not how the NHS wants the experience to be either, but that’s how it can feel when it’s super busy).

3. You can still specialise

Social care caters to a whole range of people, so you can specialise and lend your support including children, older people, people with specific physical or mental health conditions, people with disabilities, and those with specific health conditions or disabilities. This diversity allows for a variety of specialisation options, letting you focus on the area that you are most passionate about.

2. Skills Transfer: Nursing to Social Care


Both fields require strong communication skills, but social care often involves more in-depth conversations about patients’ lives, wishes, and emotions. Your experience in nursing has likely honed your ability to convey complex information in an understandable way, a skill that is invaluable in social care.


The empathy developed in nursing is a critical asset in social care, where understanding and connecting with individuals on a personal level is key.

Clinical Skills:

Depending on the social care role, some clinical skills may be necessary, particularly in settings where patients have complex health needs. Your nursing background provides a strong foundation for these responsibilities.

3. Steps to Pivot to Social Care

1. Research and Understand the Role:

Learn about the various roles within social care, the expectations associated with them, and the specific needs of the population you wish to serve.

2. Update Your CV:

Ensure your CV highlights your relevant skills and experiences, showcasing how your nursing background makes you a strong candidate for a role in social care.

3. Seek Training:

Identify any gaps in your knowledge or skills, and pursue the necessary training or certifications to bridge them.

4. Network:

Build connections with professionals in social care. Attend industry events, join online forums, and engage in conversations to learn from those already in the field.

5. Apply for Positions:

Look for positions that align with your skills and interests, and apply with confidence, knowing that your nursing background provides a strong foundation.

4. Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Mental Shift:

Moving from a clinical, fast-paced environment to social care’s often more holistic approach requires a mental shift. Embrace the change, focusing on the new opportunities it brings.

Skill Gaps:

Be proactive in identifying and addressing any skill gaps, seeking out training and mentorship as needed.

Navigating a New Environment:

Every care setting has its unique dynamics. Be patient and adaptable as you learn the ropes, and don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek guidance.

5. The Rewards of Social Care

Personal Growth:

The deep connections made in social care can lead to significant personal growth and satisfaction.

Professional Development:

With a variety of roles and specialisation options, social care offers ample opportunities for career development.

Making a Tangible Difference:

The impact of your work in social care is often immediately apparent, providing a strong sense of accomplishment and purpose.

While the transition from NHS nursing to social care is indeed significant, it opens the door to a world of new possibilities. This guide aims to provide a thorough understanding of what the shift entails, ensuring you are well-prepared for this rewarding next step in your career.

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