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Developing and nurturing a community practice clinical network for community children's nurses in Wales

27 June 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 12


Working as a children's community nurse (CCN), especially in remote and rural locations, can evoke feelings of professional isolation. Humans are by nature ‘social animals’ and the consequences of feeling isolated, and coping with distances, adverse weather and risky situations, could mean that nurses choose to work instead in more familiar and comfortable environments. This can affect retention issues and increase the risk of CCNs experiencing stress, burnout and illness-related absenteeism. The children they care for often have complex needs and parents want their CCN to be ‘on the ball’; they will feel concerned and frustrated if the CCN team lets them down. Two academics were approached by CCNs in Wales seeking ways of overcoming isolation. It was decided that the best course of action was to develop a community of practice clinical network for band 5 and 6 CCNs working in Wales, with the aim of supporting staff, sharing best practice, and promoting safe and quality-driven care. Alternating the networks among health boards, whereby the nurses decided the agenda, booked the venue, invited guest speakers, led the meeting and wrote up the minutes, was an excellent way to achieve the designated aim: reducing professional isolation. A range of clinically focused topics were discussed and debated, and the first six meetings were so effective in meeting the aim of the network that each health board is starting the cycle of hosting the network again.

Delivering care closer to home for children and young people is part of the national and devolved governments' health agendas (Welsh Government, 2018a). Children's community nurses (CCNs) aim to enable families to sustain and maintain ‘normal’ family life and ensure that children have the best quality of life achievable (Carter and Coad, 2009). CCNs are considered ‘the bedrock of pathways for ill and disabled children’ (Department of Health, 2011) and provide expert nursing care for children in their own homes and schools (Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI), 2018). However, despite these aims, and although a substantial amount of care for children occurs in community settings, the image of a community nurse is often perceived as a role that delivers basic work, requiring little complexity, technical knowledge or activity (van Lersal et al, 2016). This perceived view of the role is frustrating for CCNs.

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