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Draft education and practice standards for district nurses

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Draft standards for district nurses have been drawn up by the Queen’s Nursing Institute to ensure the expectations of the role are made “explicit”.

The proposals, which focus on both practice and education, have been designed to enhance the existing standards provided by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and help shape university training courses.

“QNI’s voluntary standards will make explicit the expectations of the role of the district nurse”


The draft framework covers four main areas – clinical care, leadership and operational management, facilitation of learning, and evidence, research and development.

Standards included in the institute’s framework – called QNI/QNIS Voluntary Standards for district Nurse Education and Practice – that do not feature in the NMC’s include the use of technology to “support self-care and improve efficiency and effectiveness”.

There is also a requirement for district nurses to work with mental health professionals and GPs to “recognise the mental health needs of people and their families and be able to support and assist patients to manage mild/moderate states of mental illness”.

Risk assessment of unpredictable situations that could involve staff and people at home features in the draft standards, as does the requirement to ensure there is a “seamless” link for patients between community care and hospital and primary settings.

“[The standards] would be the basis on which universities create courses to enable students to develop knowledge and skills [that] reflect contemporary district nursing practice”


A survey of all universities offering the district nurse specialist practice qualification has fed into development of the framework so far, as well as discussions with organisations from across the UK such as clinical commissioning and public health groups, plus practice teachers and students.

The QNI said a survey of district nurses in 2013 found NMC standards for the role, which had not been updated since 1994, did not reflect contemporary practice.

In its introduction to the consultation on the standards, which begins today, the QNI said: “The project recognises the NMC standards for specialist practice and education but believes that the QNI voluntary standards will enhance these, and make explicit the expectations of the role of the district nurse which will support consistency of expectation.

“Once approved, the QNI voluntary standards (in addition to the NMC standards) would be the basis on which universities create their courses to enable students to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours to reflect contemporary district nursing practice,” it added.

Following consultation, which is open until 19 June, the QNI aims to publish its final standards by September.

Earlier this year, workforce planning body Health Education England confirmed it was drawing up its own national training framework for district and practice nurses, in a bid to improve workforce planning and boost treatment in settings outside of hospitals.

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