District nurses must change and modernise their role and the way they provide services, according to the Queen’s Nursing Institute.
The report, 2020 Vision – Focusing on the Future of District Nursing, said the current sense of confusion that exists about the role of district nursing could be set aside if district nurses were recognised as ‘practitioners, partners and leaders’ of care in the home.
It also cautioned that district nursing services were being ‘diluted by loose use of the title, wide variations in pay banding and career structure, reduction in leadership opportunities and lack of recognition of the value of their specialist education’.
Rosemary Cook, director of the QNI, told Nursing Times that district nurses needed to ‘take ownership’ of their role now and in the future.
‘We can’t keep doing things in the same way we always have but it is important to match changes with the really important relationship-based care we provide,’ she said.
‘Technology will radically change the nature of care that can be delivered in the home, but it will only be acceptable and successful if it is matched by relationship-based, expert nursing care,’ she added.
Ms Cook said in the past district nurses had been ‘less vocal’ than other specialists at ‘laying claim to their important role’ and said that now was the time to change this.
There are just over 10,000 district nurses currently working in England – a fall of 22% in the last decade – although there has been an overall growth of 38% in the full-time equivalent resource of qualified nurses in community services during the same period.
The QNI has launched a new website to celebrate the 150th anniversary of district nursing in the UK this year. It includes a gallery of archive photographs, examination questions and stories from the First World War and Second World War.