130 years of Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland

The charity is at the heart of the changing agenda for community nursing 

The Queen's Nursing Institute Scotland wants to explore how community nurses can become a social movement and be catalysts for change

Picture: Alamy

The Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS) is celebrating its 130th anniversary this year and that is a good reason to look back at the groundbreaking work of its founders who were social reformers and championed the needs of the marginalised. Contemporary Queen’s Nurses (QNs) across the UK are building on this proud heritage and sharing that pioneering spirit to improve the well-being of the communities they work with.

There are varying perceptions about the work that community nurses do. Nurses are 42% of NHS Scotland’s workforce and 19% of that workforce is based in the community (Information Services Division Scotland (ISD) 2018a). The community nursing workforce is diverse and particular groups find themselves in the policy spotlight at different times.

As part of its programme of transforming health professions' roles, health visiting, district nursing and school nursing have all been the focus of Scottish Government attention recently (Scottish Government 2015, 2017a, 2018). As with the rest of the UK, there has been a focus on the role of advanced nurse practitioners, particularly in primary care to enhance general practice teams (Scottish Government 2017b).

An integrated workforce

In Scotland, there is a commitment to develop integrated workforce planning across health and social care (Scottish Government 2017c, 2018b). However, even in nursing we tend to view the workforce in silos and need to join up the conversations about health visiting, school nursing, community children’s nursing, and child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) with our colleagues in the allied health professions. We also need to think about speech and language therapists and music therapists as well as social workers and family support workers in a system-wide plan looking at those who support children and families.

Good work has begun, for example, in developing the nursing workforce in care homes (Scottish Care 2018) and integrating with district nursing and community mental health nursing in partnership with the wider multidisciplinary team. We need to develop those conversations further.

There are huge expectations of a workforce which is not yet in place: 48% of district nurses in Scotland are aged 50 or over and in September 2018, the district nurse vacancy rate was 7% (ISD 2018a and 2018b).

Enhanced technology

We need to ensure that the workforce is properly equipped and supported. Despite recent pilot projects, staff from all over Scotland tell QNIS that they do not have tablets or smartphones at work. So, we need to think about technology resources as well as clinical supervision, access to real-time clinical consultation and to continuing professional development (RCN 2018, QNI 2018).

While the planning conversations continue, day after day nursing staff are out in the wind and rain caring for those in need. Among the themes of the new QN programme is the importance of compassion for self, self-care and the value of stillness. As we celebrate 130 years of Queen’s Nursing in Scotland, we must remember that being kind to ourselves is not an optional extra, it is essential to our being able to reach out and has been a central theme of QNIS conferences in recent years.

‘Celebrating the past, shaping the future’ is the focus of our 2019 conference at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield stadium on 3 April. We hope to highlight the impact that Scotland’s community nurses have and to explore how we can become a social movement working with citizens to make a real difference to health and well-being. Speakers will share their views on how, as nurses, we can engage more effectively with our colleagues in health and social care and our partners in other organisations, and unleash our potential as catalysts for change. For more details about the conference click here.


About the author

Clare Cable is chief executive and nurse director, Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland, honorary professor, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, and 2017 Florence Nightingale leadership scholar

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