• 21 June 2021
  • 7 min read

What Is An NHS Non Registered Support Staff (NRSS)?

  • Caitlin Murphy
    NHS NRSS (Non Registered Support Staff)
    • Mat Martin
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Richard Gill
  • 0
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"It can be demanding, both physically and emotionally, and if you are considering working clinically within healthcare it can be a great way to work out whether healthcare is the correct career path for you." - Caitlin Murphy, NHS Non Registered Support Staff

Non Registered Support Staff (NRSS) is an NHS job role created during the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020 (some hospitals originally called the position ‘bed buddies’). NRSS worker, Caitlin, explains the role and what she does.

Topics Covered In This Article

When Did The NHS Create The Role Of Non Registered Support Staff (NRSS)?

What Were NHS Bed Buddies?

What Do NHS Non Registered Support Staff Do?

The Main Daily Tasks Of An NRSS In The NHS

What Kind Of Person Would Make A Good NRSS?

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be An NRSS?

What NHS Band Are NRSS?

What Career Opportunities Are There For NRSS?

When Did The NHS Create The Role Of Non Registered Support Staff (NRSS)?

During the start of the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020 lots of people came on board to support the NHS as it navigated its response against an event it had never had to navigate before. The pandemic put enormous pressure on NHS staff and new workforces were created to help tackle this, including NRSS.

What Were NHS Bed Buddies?

Some trusts initially called this new role Bed Buddies. As time went on this title was changed to ‘Non Registered Support Staff ‘(NRSS).

The NRSS body became a vast array of people with both direct and indirect experience to help support the nurses, doctors and allied health professionals in responding to Covid 19.

Some bed buddies were students of physiotherapy, physician associate, nursing or medicine.

However, some NRSS staff did not come from a traditional medical or health background at all.

Some were individuals with, for instance, experience in art therapy or actors, and even an ex-manager of a commercial airline.

I even heard of one NRSS who’s previous job was conducting studies into water quality in Bangladesh.

Some bed buddies were qualified doctors from other parts of the globe including Ethiopia, Sudan and South Africa.

The skill pool was rich and quite vast and we all hoped to bring our qualities and work ethic to help support our new colleagues against COVID-19.

What Do NHS Non Registered Support Staff Do?

The role of the NRSS (nee Bed Buddy) centres on providing support during a period of unprecedented demand on critical care services as a result of COVID-19.

The responsibility of the NRSS is to provide direct one-to-one care to patients in critical care, closely observing and providing direct care and keeping the bedside and other areas clean and safe.

We work under the supervision of qualified nurses, doctors and other members of the critical care team.

We also are qualified mask fit testers so can ensure new members of staff are mask fit tested and working safely.

NRSS also help in general to ensure PPE is in place so that people work in safe conditions which aim to protect them.

NRSS also record and monitor vital signs including temperature, blood pressure, pulse and respirations.

We are also taught what vital signs are concerning and how to escalate this. NRSS are also helping with pharmacy management collecting urgent medications and delivering this to the bedside nurse.

We ensure medication is stored correctly (most NRSS have been trained in medicines management).

The Main Daily Tasks Of An NRSS In The NHS

Any NRSS’s main focus is to make the patient as comfortable as possible and we participate in rolls and repositioning.

We also help to assist patient mobilising and provide a range of movement exercises after advice from a physiotherapist.

We support the admission of new patients, including transferring the patient from ICU beds.

We help support documentation of body maps, property forms and transfer forms. NRSS often provide 1-1 care and it is not unusual to be discharged with the patient to wards.

This enables us an opportunity to continue to provide care through the patient's journey in hospital.

What Kind Of Person Would Make A Good NRSS?

A good NRSS is proactive and is a team player, realising that you can make a difference in a patient’s experience be that by the humble cup of tea or styling patient’s hair.

As an NRSS you will recognise that hospitals operate as a team and you need to interact well with all members, most importantly the patient.

It can be demanding, both physically and emotionally, and if you are considering working clinically within healthcare it can be a great way to work out whether healthcare is the correct career path for you.

Any NRSS will tell you to expect a spike in your step count during busy periods but the effort is rewarded by way of some yummy donations, including fruit and pastries, one of each, and balanced in both hands!

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be An NRSS?

The qualifications for a bedside buddy include a literacy and numeracy test which assess at GCSE level (there are no set qualification requirements for an NRSS).

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Whilst working you can expect to undertake your Care Certificate training, which, alongside mask fit training, is a transferable skill into other healthcare positions.

What NHS Band Are NRSS?

NRSS tend to work at either Band 2 or Band 3 roles and could work privately as a HCA (Healthcare Assistant).

Currently this position is particular to certain trusts within the NHS, however there is a lot of scope for this role. Find out about NHS Pay Scare and Banding Pay here.

Many nurses have said that the support the NRSS offer has really helped them provide better care.

When considering how hard nurses work it is a great feeling to know you can make someone's day a little easier.

I definitely have appreciated the relationships and knowledge I have developed from working with nurses, they are a tough set of people.

What Career Opportunities Are There For NRSS?

In terms of career development it really is quite lateral for NRSS.

For example, many of the NRSS have applied to the nursing associate roles, technician assistant roles, physiotherapy assistant roles and nursing apprenticeship roles.

Working as an NRSS has opened a lot of doors for my colleagues and myself. Some colleagues have been added onto courses for management pathways to higher management within the NHS.

It has been overall a demanding but forming role for many NRSS and I am sure we are better people for our experiences and for building our team to be hard-working and effective.

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Do you have any questions about working as a NRSS?

Ask Caitlin about her experience below

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About the author

  • Caitlin Murphy
    NHS NRSS (Non Registered Support Staff)

I currently work in ICU and have been there since the start of the pandemic. I’ve always been interested in health, how it is defined and accessed and how inequalities in health develop. I previously worked in public health and hold a master in public health response in disasters. I really enjoy working in the NHS and have learnt so much, I don’t think I realised what “being professional” really meant until I worked clinically in the NHS, I certainly do now.

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  • Caitlin Murphy
    NHS NRSS (Non Registered Support Staff)

About the author

  • Caitlin Murphy
    NHS NRSS (Non Registered Support Staff)

I currently work in ICU and have been there since the start of the pandemic. I’ve always been interested in health, how it is defined and accessed and how inequalities in health develop. I previously worked in public health and hold a master in public health response in disasters. I really enjoy working in the NHS and have learnt so much, I don’t think I realised what “being professional” really meant until I worked clinically in the NHS, I certainly do now.

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