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Primary care blog: Transforming community nursing in 2009

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Nursing Times blogger and RCN primary care guru Lynn Young on how Transforming Community Services will play out in 2009, and why we all need to pay attention to it

From early 2009 health reform in England will be alive to the sound of Transforming Community Services, a topic referred to in a previous blog of mine.

But, it is important to discuss, not only the transfer of services from the hospital into the community, but also the quality, capacity and capability of community services. This thing called quality is our latest obsession and one we all need to strive to achieve; meaning everyone.

Even the most healthy among us use NHS care at one time or another. Patients do not simply want what is right anymore, we want our health service experience to be kind, compassionate, considerate and clean.

The battle for cleanliness in hospitals seems to being won. Recent reports of hospital stays from my friends and relatives include ‘I would have been pleased to eat my dinner from the floor - it was spotless’; 'three times a day cheerful and friendly people from the cleaning team became quietly and efficiently obvious, working hard to keep busy wards clean and safe’.

Lord Darzi’s reforms are quality focussed and quite rightly so, but what do we mean when we talk about high quality community health services?

Transforming Community Services has provoked a range of work streams aimed at ensuring that the talk becomes the walk and that new community services will be admired and appreciated by local folk.

And that, most important of all, they will be designed to help people improve their health, live better and be more self reliant, hence less dependent on the local hospital.

It is the easiest thing in the world to be cynical about action taken by various Government departments, but I am enthused by this latest round of quality-focused reform.

We in the community must do what we can in our quest for achieving the gold standard on quality; nothing less will totally satisfy.

There is a Department Health work stream on improving quality community health services and we must be optimistic that truly personalised care can be provided in the home, in the health centre and in the care home.

Wonderful care is currently being provided to many people in the community right now, but as always, standards vary. We have to explore what quality means to the public as much as how professionals view it. We need to catch a touch of humility and listen more to people, rather then telling them what and how they wish to receive care.

And, as we all know, talking is the easy bit. It is genuinely listening which saps the energy and patience. But, quite rightly, professional paternalism is on the decline and working in respectful partnership with patients and carers is here and here to stay.

The truth is that patient power has been in the community for some while now, we simply need a lot more of it.

This is surely the road to quality, and you will be hearing a lot more about high quality care in the community in the months to come.

May 2009 be kind and generous to all those who enjoy Nursing Times blogs.
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