Valuing the district nurse
The values and beliefs that underpin the role of the district nurse are the same today as when the Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI), a charity dedicated to improving the nursing care of people in the home and community, was founded in 1887. The key components of this highly skilled role centre on the value of keeping people at home where they want to be, with the relationship between nurse and patient as the principal therapeutic tool. The nurse works with the whole family unit as well as their carers. Expert assessment of needs and the provision of patient-centred care that incorporates clinical and social care needs should never be underestimated.
The role of this autonomous practitioner can be extremely practical, intensive and technical. Much of the work of the district nurse is unpredictable and variable and, as a result of this, district nurses have to be responsive, flexible and adaptable. Although these facets of the role should be lauded, there are a number of inherent contradictions. For example, district nursing is autonomous but it is also dependent on its networks and contacts. District nursing responds to demand, yet it must be proactive as it manages the care of people with long-term and short-term needs in all communities. On a daily basis the district nurse integrates with a large number of other people in and beyond the spheres of health and social care (QNI, 2014; Health Education England (HEE), 2015).
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