Nearly 75 per cent of district nurses do not use mobile technology in a patient's home, the Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI) has found.
In a survey of 1035 district nurses, published in 2020 Vision: Five Years On, nearly three quarters of respondents said that they did not use mobile technology to record patient care when in a patient's home.
Some of the problems highlighted by respondents were the lack of a reliable wireless internet signal in many places where nurses are treating patients in their own homes, making systems dependent on internet access impossible to use; that spending too much time on a computer during short face-to-face consultations and treatments in a patient's home was a serious barrier to effective communication; and concerns about safety when carrying laptops or other devices in the community.
The report also outlined that almost 60 per cent of respondents believed their teams had insufficient staff to meet the growing needs of patients, 83 per cent indicated that communications with hospital discharge services were unsatisfactory and over 70 per cent reported that morale in their teams was low.
The report is an update of 2020 Vision: Focusing on the Future of District Nursing, which was launched by the QNI in 2009. It described the challenges and opportunities for district nursing services, from the perspective of those working in the service at the time.
Crystal Oldman, the QNI's chief executive, said:'This new report provides a unique overview of the challenges and opportunities being faced by those delivering healthcare at home today, and we hope that it will provide major insights both to nurses, service planners, educators and decision-makers at every level.'
'Our survey highlights some extremely worrying trends. It also indicates that district nurses are responding with incredible professionalism in the face of multiple workplace challenges. It is the role of the QNI to support them, and we are doing this in a whole variety of ways. There are positive opportunities to embrace new ways of working and new technology to support caseload allocation, workforce planning, patient complexity, and self-supported care in the home.
'District nurses deliver ever more complex care in an ever more challenging working environment. The service requires nurses with increasingly specialist skills, leading a team that delivers care to people of all ages, often with needs and levels of acuity that have previously been seen only in hospitals.'
The full report can be found at www.qni.org.uk
The RCN will publish its report on district nursing in a few weeks.