COVID-19: guide for practice nurses redeployed to the community

Outline of competencies developed to help practice nurses taking up new roles during the pandemic

Picture shows nurse wearing a mask and gloves in a home visit with a female patient
Picture: iStock

Guidance outlining the competencies needed to safely carry out work in the community has been developed to help practice nurses taking up new roles during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resource, commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement and produced by the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI), is aimed at community nurse practice assessors and redeployed practice nurses.

‘The pandemic calls for nurses to work collaboratively’

Practice nurses are already supporting district and community nurses in some areas of England where there is reduced capacity, including by making home visits to shielded patients.

Queen’s nurse Sharon Aldridge-Bent, who developed the guidance, said the current circumstances call for nurses to work collaboratively and have a greater understanding of each other's disciplines.

‘These competencies have highlighted how general practice nurses can use existing skills and have an introduction to nursing in a different context,’ Ms Aldridge-Bent said.

Competency checklists across four areas

The document includes competency checklists across four essential areas:

  • Visiting skills in the community, such as demonstrating understanding of infection control and who to contact in an emergency.
  • Clinical assessment skills, such as assessing for risk of pressure ulcers and being able to perform catheterisation.
  • Principles of assessment and management of long-term conditions, such as describing and recognising signs of disease progression.
  • End of life care, such as assessing a dying patient in relation to pain and symptoms including confusion, breathlessness, nausea and constipation.

Peer support system to help nurses through the transition

The guidance emphasises that nurses must continue to work within their scope of practice and individual capabilities when moving to another area of practice.

It suggests that where possible a ‘peer support system’ should be put in place to support the nurse transitioning into the community setting.

Chief nursing officer for England Ruth May said: ‘I am delighted to see this work to provide nurses across our primary and community services with the bridging competencies they need to support our must vulnerable patients in community settings.’

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