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New standards aim to support community children’s nurses

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New voluntary standards have been published for the education and practice of community children’s nurses.

The guidelines are intended to raise the profile of community children’s nursing services and draw attention to the way nurses in the sector are trained across the UK.

“Community children’s nursing services are a small but a vitally important resource”

Mary Saunders

The standards were drawn up by the Queen’s Nursing Institute and Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland, after taking note of advice from a range of experts in education and the royal colleges.

The voluntary code makes explicit the practice expectations of community children’s nurses on completing a Specialist Practice Qualification (SPQ). It does not prescribe the academic level, structure or length of the SPQ course.

Instead, the standards are intended to build on the Nursing and Midwifery Council Standards of Specialist Practice and articulate the requirements of children’s community nurses who are leading teams.

The QNI and QNIS said they hoped the new standards would provide the basis for future educational development to support community children’s nursing teams.

The standards are the third in a series following on from voluntary standards for district nurses, published in 2015, and for senior general practice nurses, published last year.

“CCN services are a small but a vitally important resource for the growing number of children and young people needing expert nursing care in the community,” said Mary Saunders, the QNI’s project manager.

“The QNI and QNIS hope to raise the profile of CCN services and the preparation of nurses to work in CCN teams to ensure the highest quality of care for children, young people and their families,” she said.

She added: “There is a clear policy shift in all UK countries to community based, integrated health and social care and an enhanced focus on admission avoidance, early discharge and greater support for children and young people with complex needs.”

To inform the development of the new standards, the QNI carried out a survey last year of 348 nurses working in community children’s nursing services.

Almost half (47.5%) of respondents said their teams had had to refuse referrals at certain times due to capacity problems.

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Crystal Oldman

Meanwhile, 35% of community children’s nurses said that they used holiday entitlement to undertake professional development opportunities.

The survey also found that 73% of community children’s nursing teams had at least one member with a relevant specialist practitioner qualification.

QNI chief executive Dr Crystal Oldman highlighted the pressures facing children’s nurses working in community settings.

She said: “Predictions from nurses working in this field are that demand for their services is growing and will continue to grow, due to an increasing population and a growing number of young people living for longer with serious health conditions that require intensive and ongoing support.

“There are widespread concerns around the capacity of the CCN teams to meet this growing demand,” she said.

She added: “There is significant evidence for the need and the desire for further education and development in the specialism, via the Specialist Practice Qualification.”

Headline findings of the QNI report:

  • 73% of community children’s nurse teams have at least one member with a relevant Specialist Practitioner Qualification
  • Most community children’s nurses have worked in the specialty for a relatively short time – 33% for less than five years and a further 25% for less than 10 years
  • 82% of respondents had a formal mentorship role and 97% of community children’s nursing teams offer pre-registration nursing student placements
  • Over 70% of respondents did not expect to retire from the profession for 10 years but 29% expected to retire within the next five years
  • 47.5% of respondents indicated that their teams had to refuse referrals at certain times, due to capacity issues
  • 35% of community children’s nurse indicated that they used annual leave entitlement in order to undertake professional development opportunities
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