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Q&A: What do field specific standards for community nursing mean for me?

Q&A: What do field specific standards for community nursing mean for me?

The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) launched field specific standards for six areas of community nursing: adult social care nursing, community children’s nursing, community mental health nursing, district nursing, general practice nursing, and inclusion health nursing in July, and now draft standards for health and justice nursing, community palliative and end of life care nursing, and community learning disability nursing. Here, the QNI explains what nurses need to know.

What was the background to this programme?

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) published new standards for post-registration nursing qualifications in the community in July 2022, and while the QNI welcomed this update, there was a clear need to create standards for different nursing specialisms.

The QNI subsequently agreed to develop field specific standards to enhance and build on the NMC’s core standards. The NMC has welcomed and supported the QNI’s approach.

What are the field specific standards?

The QNI’s Field Specific Standards for Specialist Practitioner Qualifications (SPQ) have been mapped on to the NMC’s core standards where necessary, helping educators and students to frame their understanding of the underlying principles and enable cross-referencing.

They have also been mapped to the four pillars of advanced practice: clinical care, leadership and management, education and assessing learning, and evidence, research, and development.

The new standards were created with the help of education providers, practitioners, and key stakeholders across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. All the standards also underwent a public consultation process before official publication. They also had detailed input from people with lived experience of relevant healthcare services.

What are the benefits for nurses, educators and employers?

Community nurses represent approximately 300,000 of the 720,000 nurses currently registered with the NMC, highlighting a clear need to uphold high standards of practice in this field. With growing imperatives in national healthcare policy to deliver more care in people’s homes and communities, the importance of community nursing specialists will only increase in coming years.

Standardising education in community nursing has several benefits: it develops the essential skills needed to practice autonomously in challenging situations, it enables employers to determine which nurses have the necessary knowledge and skills to practice in different settings, and supports community nurses who are striving for excellent patient care, learning and leadership.

How will the standards be used in higher education?

Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) can apply to gain access to the standards and are invited to map their SPQ courses to the QNI’s new standards. The QNI will endorse university SPQs that are using the field specific standards. Endorsed programmes will be listed on the QNI website, and students who have completed the course will receive QNI certifications. There is a fee applicable to HEIs that wish to map their SPQ courses to the QNI Standards, to cover the ongoing cost of developing the Standards and the endorsement process required.

One educator commented that existing QNI voluntary standards were ‘an invaluable resource for universities to map their programme and module outcomes to,’ and that the standards ‘ensured a robust approach that has enabled the development of courses, modules and assessment strategies that meet the needs of students in the ongoing development of evidence-based contemporary practice’.

By working with HEIs, the QNI seeks to support a dynamic career path for students completing endorsed SPQ qualifications. After qualifying, students will be prepared to work in the community sector at an advanced level of practice and will in many cases be leading and managing teams delivering complex care to individuals, families, and their carers.

What will this mean for nurses?

As the QNI’s chief executive Dr Crystal Oldman CBE has said, there are real benefits to nurses, employers and patients flowing from the QNI field specific standards. Individual nurses will have access to clearly articulated educational pathways based on standards which are consistently applied by HEIs for their field of practice.

What should we expect next?

The QNI has now launched consultations on three more field specific standards for health and justice nursing, community palliative and end of life care nursing, and community learning disability nursing. These are available for consultation until 9 November.

To find out more about the QNI’s Field Specific Standards, visit: QNI Field Specific Standards – The Queen’s Nursing Institute.

Author: Bethan Cornick, The Queen’s Nursing Institute


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