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Improving district nursing for all

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The SPQ is crucial for district nurses The SPQ is crucial for district nurses

In 2014 the QNI published the landmark document 2020 Vision: Reassessing the future of district nursing. The survey on which the report was based included the views of more than 1000 district nurses on the current challenges facing the delivery of a district nursing service in people's homes and communities. Three key themes were identified in the analysis of the data: workforce, mobile working and discharge planning.

The QNI is now exploring these issues in more depth, through two projects, with the intention of creating a strong evidence-base for practice development.

In relation to workforce, there was concern about having sufficient numbers of suitably qualified district nurse team leaders to meet the needs of patients, carers and families with increasingly complex, acute care healthcare needs.

There was a clear message that the Specialist Practitioner Qualification (SPQ) in district nursing was critical to the effective leadership and management of the caseload and the team. Respondents expressed some concern that the positive impact – and therefore the value – of the qualification was not always understood.

It was also significant in relation to this issue that in several areas of the country, where there had been under-investment in the SPQ, it was reported that leaders of district nursing teams were now being supported to retrospectively complete the SPQ programme.

The QNI is currently working on a project to articulate the impact and value of the SPQ qualification to patients, families, carers and the team they lead. We are consulting widely on this and we welcome your views.

In addition, the QNI is now working on a project to identify best practice in relation to discharge planning, and the development of systems to share this with provider organisations. Common issues in relation to discharge practices were clearly articulated in the 2020 Vision survey. We are taking an approach which seeks to understand the elements that currently challenge the district nursing service and those which constitute best practice in discharge planning. We plan to test the latter with providers and then share the findings.

There is a potential to contribute to both these projects by completing the survey and by contacting the project manager, at

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

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