Opinion

Have your say on future district nurse standards

New draft practice standards for district nurses have been developed by the Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI) and QNI Scotland.

The standards place a stronger emphasis on advanced assessment skills and the ability to undertake appropriate physical and clinical examination skills to enable differential diagnoses and complex decision making, as well as a clinical leadership role. 

More nurses are joining district nursing teams directly on qualifying, so the district nurse has to be skilled in preceptorship and mentoring. This is a complex process as staff work alone.  District nurses manage members of the team to take on delegated roles previously carried out by the district nurse, but there is the need to support and develop these staff to provide care in unpredictable environments. 

Contemporary district nurses require the skill to co-ordinate a wide range of services that support people at home and to work effectively in a range of new models of care.  This may include integrated health and social care teams or working within GP federations. 

The leadership role also includes knowledge of service innovation, service user involvement, commissioning and quality monitoring.  The district nurse is often required to put forward business cases or operational plans to reflect changes in service provision and the new standards reflect this expectation. 

The draft standards emphasise supporting behaviour change (clearly stated in the Five Year Forward View) as district nurses will be expected to engage more actively with patients, using techniques to support behaviour change. 

The voluntary standards will be launched at the QNI conference on September 28 2015.

Have your say on the draft standards now here.

About the author

Mary Saunders is project manager, QNI/QNI Scotland Project for District Nurse Education and Practice