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The nursing associate role provides care for people in health and social care settings. The role has been developed to bridge the skills gap between care workers and registered nurses in England.

A nursing associate contributes to the core work of nursing which enables registered nurses to focus on more complex care needs, leadership and management.

All nursing associates are educated at foundation degree level 5, and once qualified register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council who regulate all nurses, midwives and nursing associates in England. Nursing associates are standalone regulated roles and fully accountable for their practice and work to a different standard of proficiency to registered nurses.

Once registered, nursing associates undertake continuous professional development (CPD) to meet revalidation requirements and support their scope of practice which may mean extending the role to meet the needs of your working environment.

View examples of nursing associate roles.

Duration 4 mins 32 secs


Employing nursing associates

If you're interested in understanding more about the nursing associate role in social care our deployment guide may be useful to you.

PDF - 833Kb

In this guide you can gain a clear understanding of the role and how it and add value to the quality of care. Hear how registered nursing associates are working in different social care settings and how the scope of practice can differ depending on the team and situation.


Student nursing associates

Employers could consider an apprenticeship programme to support the development of  nursing associate roles This is a great opportunity to offer career progression for existing staff as well as an attractive recruitment offer for motivated individuals to join social care teams.

Routes to nursing associate qualification


A work-based programme where the student is an employee (existing or new). The student is working during the education period as a student nursing associate. There will be mandatory learning days and placements in different areas to meet the programme requirements.

View the apprenticeship levy for more information.

Direct entry route

Universities are offering the pre-registration nursing associate programme as a direct entry option. In this case the student nursing associate is a student at the university, not an employee. Fees for the programme will be charged to the student. 

As a social care employer, you can get involved with the new role by offering placement opportunities for pre-registration nursing associates, speak to your local university and ICB to see what support is on offer. 

View our Developing nursing placement opportunities in social care guidance.

For additional funding information please contact your regional lead from NHS England:

  • North West: Michael.mcnamee@nhs.net
  • North East and Yorkshire: lyndsay.murden@nhs.net
  • London: michele.mtandabari3@nhs.net
  • East of England: deborah.cubitt1@nhs.net
  • South East: claire.wardle3@nhs.net
  • Midlands: ben.atkinson10@nhs.net
  • South West: rachel.tims@nhs.net


I did the nursing associate course because I have a passion for caring for people along with gaining transferable skills to help myself grow within social care.

Nursing associate


It's our collective duty as human beings to look out for one another. Giving people your concern gives you inner power and profound fulfilment. Humans require friendship because we are social animals, but friendship is derived from having compassion and caring for people, not from having wealth or power.

Registered Nurse Associate


Nursing associate peer network

Are you a nursing associate or student nursing associate working in adult social care looking to connect with peers?

If so, we’ve set up a series of online networking meetings which you can join! Whether you’re currently working, on placement, or intending to work in adult social care, sign up for our meetings and take the opportunity to:

  • Collaborate, share best practices, discuss challenges, and engage in collective problem-solving with other nursing associates or student nursing associates nationwide.
  • Gain access to an open platform to talk about topics and challenges that are important to you.
  • Hear from guest speakers discussing themed topic areas for each meeting.

If you would like to learn more about or join this network please email socialcarenursing@skillsforcare.org.uk.

Are you a provider interested in or currently developing the nursing associate role?

To help support the development of the nursing associate role in social care, we hold a national forum where providers can get involved and share good practices. The group is currently working on the following approach:

  • Business case development – what do people need to know if they are considering supporting student nursing associates (SNA) direct entry, SNA apprenticeships/qualified nursing associates.
  • Supporting the workforce to understand the role – sharing examples of where the role is working well in the sector.
  • Increasing placements for nursing associates hosted in social care.
  • Supporting the development of the role in domiciliary care.

If you would like to learn more about or join this forum please email socialcarenursing@skillsforcare.org.uk.

Get in touch

Learn more about the nursing associate role by emailing any queries to socialcarenursing@skillsforcare.org.uk.