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Bringing healthcare into the community

A community-based health scheme which has seen nurses and lay health workers visit pubs, workplaces and community centres has been hailed as a success for identifying chronic disease symptoms in the community.

The scheme - Casefinder - was planned to run from September until December this year, but has been so successful it is now being rolled out to more venues.

The scheme was launched by Belfast district nurses in partnership with the East Belfast Community Health Information Project (EBCHIP) and supported by London-based charity The Queen's Nursing Institute.

Casefinder has locally recruited and trained lay health workers to work alongside district nursing staff using a specially designed health screening tool to identify people at risk of serious illness.

Nurses and EBCHIP volunteers have already identified various potential problems, such as previously undiagnosed cases of diabetes and high blood pressure - helping to identify chronic disease symptoms before a problem becomes a crisis. The Casefinder project offers local people:

  • An on-the-spot nursing assessment by a district nurse.
  • Individual and specific health advice.
  • A comprehensive health information pack.
  • Onward referral where appropriate.

Rosemary Cook, Director of the Queen's Nursing Institute, recently visited the project and saw the nurses and volunteers in action offering health checks at east Belfast's Constitutional Club.

Hailing the success of the project so far, Ms Cook said: "We are delighted with the progress of this very exciting project which demonstrates one of the key roles of community nurses: going out into the community to meet local need. The collaboration between health professionals and lay workers from within the community is undoubtedly one of the main reasons for the success of this project."

Kay Kane, Manager for District Nursing in South & East Trust explained: "By helping the lay health workers to extend their range of skills, and increasing public accessibility to health services, district nurses are building upon their public health expertise."