Community nursing isn't about 'tea and chat' says QNI director

Queen's Nursing Institute's Sue Boran wants to see more done nationally to encourage nursing students into community roles

The image of community nursing as being about ‘tea and chat’ must be dispelled to inspire the next generation of nurses, a NHS staffing conference heard. 

Picture: Alamy

Queen’s Nursing Institute director of nursing programmes Sue Boran told the NHS staff: skills, retention and recruitment conference in Manchester on Thursday many nursing students may see community nursing as ‘boring’. 

Ms Boran said students can view community nursing as somewhere they will become deskilled; that it is for older nurses and that you must get your hospital experience first.


She said: ‘Let me dispel those myths – staff choosing to work in the community will achieve an enormous range of skills in a very short time because they have to.’

She said community nurses work in teams but also alone in making complex decisions about patients’ health in their own homes. 

Complex work

These are places that aren’t set up as healthcare environments, which adds to the complexity of the job, Ms Boran said. 

‘If you ask any community nurse they will tell you it’s easily the most complex job they’ve ever done. You’re jumping from one thing to another every day and every day is different.’

Decline in numbers

The number of district nurses in England fell from 7,716 in 2010 to 4,400 in 2016. 

Ms Boran called for a national recruitment campaign to attract students into the profession. Recruitment events should be held in schools, colleges and universities, she suggested.

Proud profession

Ms Boran has a background in district nursing in London and said that when she qualified in the 1980s, ‘it was a very proud profession to be in’.

‘I’m not sure people feel the same pride in admitting that they’re a nurse and that’s very sad. Maybe we’ve lost some of this enthusiasm for wanting to be a nurse.’ 

More community placements for pre-registration nursing students in the broadest range of settings are required, according to Ms Boran. 

Grants for students

Health minister Stephen Barclay told parliament on 9 May that grants will be offered to attract students to undersubscribed nursing disciplines. 

This includes district nursing, and Ms Boran welcomed the news while adding that the details of the plan are still to be revealed. 

She said robust induction programmes, ‘probably longer than you would have in a hospital setting’, are needed to make people feel valued and welcome. 

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