The Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP) workforce in Scotland should be developed and invested in to support the needs of elderly people living in rural and remote areas of the country, a report by RCN Scotland has found.
Going the extra mile, examined the need for enhanced community nursing services for older patients who live in remote, rural areas of Scotland, where access to health services may be limited by geography and availability of healthcare professionals. The report found that a long-term lack of investment into community services, and issues with recruiting and retaining community nurses were having a detrimental impact on the provision of care for older patients in rural Scotland.
One of the central recommendations of the report was the development of the ANP workforce to support older patients in Scotland's remote communities. It states that there should be national standards for the education, training, and career development of ANPs. It also suggests that more consideration should be given to strategies to encourage ANPs to practice in rural areas.
Ellen Hudson, the associate director of professional practice at RCN Scotland, said: 'ANPS make such a fantastic contribution with what they can do. Some areas of Scotland, particularly islands, don't have GPs, and ANPs can make the necessary clinical decisions.'
Other recommendations highlighted in the report to improve community care in rural areas include enhancing the IT skills of clinical staff, to enable them to use telehealth and telecare, and greater investment in community services. It also raises the concern that many areas of rural Scotland lack modern internet and mobile phone networks, which limits the ability of community nurses to work in these areas.
Theresa Fyffe, the director of RCN Scotland, said: 'Patients in remote and rural parts of Scotland already struggle to access services, and the geographical distribution of patients makes delivering a flexible service closer to home much more difficult. The future may therefore demand a more mobile and flexible nursing workforce along with technologically competent and confident staff and patients. The ambition to deliver good quality, integrated care and support in people's homes and closer to their communities needs to apply to the whole of Scotland.'
The report was created in collaboration with charity Age Scotland.