The benefits of community nursing
By Dan Allard
With plans to treat more and more patients outside hospital, the role of community nurse has never been more vital to the NHS.
Every day, community nurses, also known as district nurses, provide essential care and support to millions of people across the UK. New models of care in the NHS are putting greater emphasis on treating people at, or closer to, home to reduce pressure on hospitals. As a result, the demand for newly-qualified nurses or experienced practitioners to work in community nursing roles is growing fast.
What is community nursing?
Community nursing jobs involve providing high quality care to patients outside of a hospital environment, for example in their own homes on in residential care homes, at a GP surgery or a local clinic. Many patients cared for by community nurses are elderly and/or living with long-term conditions.
As a community nurse, you may work on your own or as part of a multidisciplinary health and social care team. As well as treatment and therapies, the role of community nurse also involves giving advice and support to help patients manage their conditions and improve their day-to-day quality of life.
What skills do you need as a community nurse?
Community nurses often have to manage a demanding workload and schedule, dealing with people who have a wide variety of illnesses or disabilities. So, in addition to the basic skills required in any nursing job, in a community nurse role you'll need to be well-organised, self-reliant and adaptable. You'll also need good communication and problem-solving skills.
What are the benefits of a community nursing role?
All nursing jobs can be rewarding. However, a community nursing role can feel particularly worthwhile. In many cases, you'll be enabling patients to remain independent and stay in their own homes. You'll also be able to see the tangible effects of the care and support you give them. As you'll be working with a variety of conditions, you'll also be able to develop your skills and experience. You can gain valuable knowledge and insights from interacting with other health and social care professionals.
Investing in community nursing benefits the wider NHS and social care services. Care is more focused and 'joined up', improving effectiveness and efficiency. Treating people outside of hospitals also frees up beds and relieves pressure.
What opportunities are there for personal development in community nursing?
As with all nursing jobs, you'll be encouraged to develop your knowledge and skills through continuing professional development (CPD). There are also opportunities for career progression. For example, you could become a team leader, community sister or community matron, while some community nurses choose to become healthcare managers or go into clinical academic research.
How do you become a community nurse?
If you're a fully trained, HCPC-registered adult, child, mental health or learning disability nurse, you can apply to complete a specialist practitioner programme in community nursing. The training usually takes one to two years and will include a practical community placement.