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Capitalising on the astonishing work of district and community nurses during COVID-19

We need to retain the spotlight on the excellent service we provide beyond the pandemic
Image shows a community nurse in PPE tending to a patient in their home during the COVID-19 pandemic

We need to retain the spotlight on the excellent service we provide beyond the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated a heightened focus on our NHS, positively exposing how nurses stepped up to the challenge. Public appreciation has been palpable. Despite the focus on hospital-based care, silently and often unseen, district and community nurses have continued to meet the mounting demands of increasingly complex care in patients homes.

Positives have included reports of remarkable patient empowerment; embracing the challenges of self-management; augmented community teams welcoming deployed colleagues; sharing knowledge and skills; building strong professional

We need to retain the spotlight on the excellent service we provide beyond the pandemic


Picture: Alamy

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated a heightened focus on our NHS, positively exposing how nurses stepped up to the challenge. Public appreciation has been palpable. Despite the focus on hospital-based care, silently and often unseen, district and community nurses have continued to meet the mounting demands of increasingly complex care in patients’ homes.

Positives have included reports of remarkable patient empowerment; embracing the challenges of self-management; augmented community teams welcoming deployed colleagues; sharing knowledge and skills; building strong professional relationships; and the efficient implementation of new technology to support service redesign and improve patient outcomes.

Nurses’ unremitting obligation to fill any gaps in service provision

Sadly, there have been negatives too: burgeoning caseloads due to the those acutely ill and at end of life understandably electing to remain at home in greater numbers; and urgent demands for emotional support for those isolated and alone; and an unremitting obligation to fill any – and all – of the gaps in service provision.

‘We need to retain the spotlight on the excellent service we provide and raise our profile to stake our claim for investment, funding and resourcing’

We celebrate these achievements, but what does the future hold? There’s talk of a ‘second wave’, the impending effect of delays to screening, diagnosis and treatment and the imminent discharge of those ‘post-COVID’, a ‘new’ chronically sick, dependent and deconditioned. It may be years before the extent of this is felt, and these demands are slowly but surely returning.

The pandemic has raised the profile of our astonishing, adaptable, resourceful and solution-focused community workforce, each day going ‘above and beyond’ and making us all proud.  The talk of returning to ‘business as usual’ is a concern.

Business as usual for community teams 

For community teams, it has been business as usual – and more –throughout. Many are tired, disillusioned and feel overlooked. The spotlight on care provided in the community is waning and there is a risk that the expert care delivered in the home will, once again, go unnoticed.

The workload of community teams is likely to rise exponentially. If we are to continue to be proud of our work, we need to retain the spotlight on the excellent service we provide; we need to raise our profile to stake a claim for investment, funding and resourcing.

View our COVID-19 resource centre


Professor Julie Green is dean of education at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Keele University, and chair of the RCN district and community nursing forum

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