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Wendy Nicholson, Professional Officer for Nursing, reports on a new vision and model for district nursing

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Care is our business, and providing care in community settings - closer to home for our vulnerable and frail elderly population is clearly a priority for us all, but one particularly for district nursing services. We also need to remember the diverse and range of support they provide in supporting health and wellbeing in the community including; complex care, end of life care, management of long-term conditions and delivering public health.

In May this year, we set off on a journey with the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI)  our strategic partners, our aim being to develop a new vision and service model for district nursing services. We have worked with district nurses, their teams and wider stakeholders to develop a vision that captures the essence of the service and how we take the service forward for future years. A service that is recognised as dynamic and responding to population and individual need – a service that delivers across the life course and contributes to all conditions - this needs to be understood by commissioners, partners and the public.

We shared the draft vision at the QNI conference in October and asked for feedback. We received a lot of feedback and constructive comments on the vision and how this has raised the profile of what seemed like a forgotten service. We have worked with the QNI and NHS Commissioning Board to incorporate this into the vision and service offer.

The district nurses we have met and worked with talked passionately about the service and care they delivered – often describing the service as the ‘glue’ to hold things for patients. Helping patients navigate through the complexity of health and social care is fundamental to the service, for many patients and carers they rely on the knowledge, expertise that the district nursing team bring.

Delivering care in peple’s home requires a defined skill set – respectfulness is essential. The seamless support provided is underpinned by the collaborative working, the current emphasis on integrated working with social care offers further opportunities to improve care in the community. District nursing services have strong foundations and embrace innovation to support new ways of working.  The government drive to use of technology to improve mobilise working and support care will be of great benefit district nursing teams across England.

Care in local communities: a new vision and model for district nursing published today, is framed in the wider vision and strategy for nurses, midwives and care staff Compassion in Practice, the 6C’s clearly resonate with district nursing services and this provides an opportunity to re-affirm the core values of the service. The priority actions provide a framework on which to structure the way forward and future ways of working. The NHS CB will now lead the implementation phase – working with Clinical Commissioning Groups, Local Action Teams and practitioners to ensure the service model is embedded through local actions.

We have worked with district nurses from across England who shared their experiences, their commitment and demonstrated their compassion through patient stories and their own personal reflections. We have worked with QNI, NHS CB and importantly district nurses themselves to mobilise the profession and raise the profile of the dynamic and essential service, which supports care closer to home.

A special thanks to all of you who have been involved and gave up your time, shared your expertise and supported this development phase – finally none of this would ave been possible with out the support and drive from Anne Pearson and Crystal Oldman from QNI.

Wendy Nicholson

Follow me on Twitter @WendyJNicholson


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  1. Comment by James posted on

    Cheers to all who showed support and exerted effort into this wonderful phase. I'm sure you have one goal in mind - deliver the best care. 🙂


  2. Comment by Nursing Service posted on

    Wow, what a great resource! Thanks for sharing this.....

  3. Comment by Jan posted on

    This is a wonderful opportunity for district nursing to make a powerful comeback. an excellent document with strong guidance and vision. good luck with it and i hope district nursing is able to demonstrate what a valuable service it provides through its implementation.

    from a newly retired district nurse!

  4. Comment by Helen posted on

    Positive reading but very concerned to see no mention of the critical relationship between practice nursing and district nursing services given they are nurses working with the same populations. Opportunity missed for key area of integration.

    • Replies to Helen>

      Comment by rtunmore posted on

      Thank you for your comments and feedback. We recognise the important role of General Practice Nurses and how crucial it is to have clear links across the different professional groups.
      The overview of the Distirct Nurse Vision and service offer shows the linkages across all community services. We are currently working with General Practice Nurses to scope a service offer. If you would like to be involved please do get in touch.

  5. Comment by Martin posted on

    Good to hear about grilliant-minded district nurses who gathered together for such wonderful cause. I'm sure you are doing it from the heart. 🙂

    Martin of

  6. Comment by Sue Dunlop posted on

    An excellent resource for English staff. From an educator in Wales two points.

    .The role and responsibilities of the children's community nurse in relation to transition of young people to district nurses is an un researched area. I looked into this and only located one Scottish document. My own study revealed conflict between these two groups of community nurses as well as difficulties with community learning disability nurses.
    .Education for community nurses. We have developed an e-learning award which aims to enable nurses working in areas where the health studies course is not commissioned. Thus far only Scottish children's nurses have responded outside of Wales. We would like students from further afield if supported by their managers.


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