The Queen’s Nursing Institute will launch two initiatives next year to support the “pressing need for excellent practitioners to lead our community nursing services”, its chief executive has said.
Crystal Oldman warned that nursing continued to be “challenged by the implementation of good leadership” at a time when it had the opportunity to be central to a raft of new care models and services in community settings.
“Leadership in times of change is more challenging than ever”
Speaking at the QNI’s annual conference this week, she acknowledged that “excellent practitioners don’t always make great leaders and managers”.
But Dr Oldman said there was “little recognition too” that it was hard to take on such roles without “preparation and help and good deal of support”.
“They might be lucky,” she said. “They may have experienced great role models, had an opportunity to ‘act up’ in the role before formally taking it on and they may be well supported in their new role.
“But most in my experience don’t have that opportunity and don’t have the support that is needed,” she said, noting that nurse leadership was the subject of her five-year doctorate.
She also highlighted findings from the QNI’s 2020 Vision for District Nursing report, which was published last year.
The report, which included a survey of more than 1,000 district nurses, revealed that staff nurses were being placed into leadership positions in the community with no formal preparation, no specialist practice programme and little support – which in some cases “had not worked well”.
“Excellent practitioners don’t always make great leaders and managers”
Dr Oldman told delegates that, as a result, the QNI would be launching two new initiatives next year to help community nurses in develop their leadership skills.
Firstly, it will offer a selected number of Queen’s Nurses the opportunity to undertake a funded year-long leadership programme. It will be designed specifically to support the development of “our future system and service leaders”, said Dr Oldman.
In addition, the QNI will be developing a network for senior leaders of the community nursing service in response to warnings that “peer support is much needed for their role”.
She also highlighted the launch earlier this week of the joint QNI and Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland voluntary standards for district nurse education and practice.
She added that the two organisations would be now working on similar standards for general practice nurse education and practice.
“We know that the future of care delivery is in community and primary care,” she said at the conference in London.
“What will be needed to support that vision for the future are nurses with community expertise who are appropriately prepared to take on new leadership and management roles, to take forward the services as they develop in new ways,” she said.
She added: “Leadership in times of change is more challenging than ever and we have had change after change in the health service, with more to come in the years ahead as we face continuing years of austerity. Maintaining the status quo is clearly no longer an option.”