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DH unveils district nursing 'vision'

Local organisations have received a 'call to action' to develop district nursing services in line with a new vision published today (4 January 2013).

The Department of Health (DH) led document Care in local communities: A new vision and model for district nursing aims to “strengthen” and “clarify” the district nursing service and contribution to care.

As such district nurses have now been asked to focus their teams on provide a service that encompasses three core elements: population and case load management; support and care for patients who are unwell, recovering at home and at the end of people's lives; and support and care for independence.

Viv Bennett, director of nursing at the DH said: “In order to meet the needs of our ageing population we have to change the way we work and provide more care in the community. People are living longer and we need services that support people to be as well and as independent as they can for as long as possible. District nurses have the professional expertise and knowledge to lead and provide these services.”

The district nursing service has also been called upon to ensure chief nursing officer Jane Cumming's 6 C's - care, compassion, courage, communication, competence and commitment - underpin all they do.

Promoting integration of services and supporting the transition of care also features in the report, as well supporting patient choice, managing risk and ensuring collaborative working with GPs and other services.

The new model stresses the importance of opportunistic public health interventions in 'making every contact count' and the use of technology to promote more effective mobile working.

It is claimed the use of technology to support patient care and enhance mobile working is already being embraced by district nurses and new resources promised by the government is anticipated to provide new opportunities to enhance service delivery.

Crystal Oldman, chief executive of the Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI) said: “The publication of a new vision and model for district nursing is both timely and welcome. It will be of particular interest to service commissioners who need to deliver high quality patient care to people in their own homes and communities.

“District nursing lies at the heart of community healthcare. They are the health professionals best able to meet the challenges of an older population with complex care needs, and the new opportunities afforded by advances in technology. This document will help raise the profile of district nurses and the increasingly important role that they are playing in primary and community healthcare.”

While it is expected the local implementation will vary according to primary and community care service in local areas, it is hoped the underpinning values and overarching ambition for district nurses delivering high quality and best outcomes are “constant”.

This model has been produced by a strategic partnership of the
QNI, DH and NHS Commissioning Board (NHS CB), who worked alongside professionals from district nursing services, higher education, wider community nursing and social care.

The NHS CB will take the lead in implementing the vision for the district nursing service, together with Health Education England and Public Health England.