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Building healthier communities

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Community roles offer nurses personal and professional development, as well as a daily chance to make a real difference

If you think that community nursing is not exciting think again.

That’s the message from Emma Self, head of professional standards at CityCare, a Nottingham-based social enterprise which delivers NHS services across the city including school nursing, district nursing and health visiting.

Nottingham has a diverse and growing population with significant health and social care needs and currently needs more health visitors and community nurses.

Community nursing is incredibly varied and rewarding - you will have a huge amount of autonomy and you will develop resilience in abundance. You’ll also need lots of creativity to engage with a wide range of patients and carers. This helps to develop your clinical expertise but also provides a real buzz when you enable people to solve their own problems and become independent”

”One of the most important things for me is being able to facilitate end-of-life care at home”

Eithne Gallagher

Eithne Gallagher, a district nurse for CityCare, who moved over from the local acute trust in 2009, agrees.

“I felt it was time for a new challenge, and I like being able to help people in their own homes, see patients every day and really get to know them as people. For example I see people who can’t administer their daily insulin, or I support patients to dress leg ulcers or wounds.

“One of the most important things for me is being able to facilitate end-of-life care at home, helping to honour people’s wishes.”

Eithne says every day is different and: “It is the best job I have ever had in nursing.”

Emma agrees that making the move to community nursing, offers ample opportunities to increase their clinical expertise and have a more fulfilling role, in fact she believes having community skills future proofs the careers of today’s nurses.

“There are more and more patients coming into the community who are chronically sick. In response, we are delivering specialist acute assessment training to upskill and support our community nurses and help them to recognise unwell patients and manage long-term conditions.”

Beth Sheen has been a school nurse with CityCare for four years, and is positive about the training opportunities she has received. She’s been supported to get her practice teacher qualification so that she can train new school nurses, and says she is proud of the help she’s been able to give.

“My best moment was when I worked with a girl who was self harming. I supported her for two years, and I was so proud to see her go on and gain employment. She wrote me a thank you letter to say I had made a difference, and that made it all worthwhile.”

”The opportunities to progress your career here are extensive, in line with our grow your own philosophy”

Emma Self

CityCare is looking for both newly qualified and experienced staff. Emma emphasises that the organisation puts its core values of integrity, expertise, unity and enterprise, at the heart of its recruitment and selection process. These also underpin its new nursing strategy.

In addition, working in a social enterprise, she says, gives nurses the opportunity to innovate with services and to see the benefits in the community of investing in social return.

“The opportunities to progress your career here are extensive, in line with our grow your own philosophy” says Emma. “We’re really committed to developing our workforce and through regular appraisal and supervision managers will identify learning and development needs and help our nurses explore their options.”

Recently, CityCare has set up rotational posts across acute, community and primary care settings, as well as a chance to try different specialties, such as nursing in a stroke unit.

The organisation has also created a new working model called the holistic worker, which is being rolled out in December. This aims to transfer skills across different health professionals – for example a nurse could provide physiotherapy as well as nursing care, ensuring the patient sees fewer clinicians.

“This is about a new way of working, and gives the nurse a more holistic and broader range of skills,” says Emma.

As I said, every day is different and working for CityCare provides you with a real opportunity to broaden your skills and work in diverse roles and settings. Most of all it allows you to make a difference and see the difference that you are making.

For more information, contact Emma Self at

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