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QNI hosts District Nursing in the Digital Age conference

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Dr Oldman speaking at the conference Dr Oldman speaking at the conference

The QNI hosted an event focusing on the role technology can play in supporting district nurses, and enhancing the care patients receive.

Dr Crystal Oldman, the QNI's chief executive, opened the day with a speech on how technology is vital to the district nursing profession, followed by an overview of district nursing by Wendy Nicholson, the professional officer for school and community nursing at PHE. She explained how greater use of technology is being used in some areas to increase the efficiency of district nursing.

Ms Nicholson's presentation was followed by the launch of the social media group @WeDistrictNurse, a spin off of the @WeNurses twitter account. Teresa Chinn, the nurse who founded the group, gave a presentation on how district nurses can use social media, in particular twitter, to develop expertise 'beyond geographical and hierarchical boundaries'.

Anne Cooper, the lead nurse for informatics at NHS England, discussed informatics, and how they can be used to enhance patient care. After this, a talk entitled: 'Patient partnership: The value of patients accessing their records using mobile technology' was given by Dr Amir Hannan, a GP at Haughton Thornley Medical Centre, and Ingrid Brindle, the chair of the Thornley House Patient Participation Group. They described a scheme that they spearheaded, which emphasises patient participation, as it gives the patient's full online access to their complete medical records at any time for the day.

After a short break, there were various presentations on the different kinds of software and other technology being used across the country to increase efficiency. These included explanations of 'The Wight Tool', which was developed by district nurses in the Isle of Wight to measure demand, capacity and acuity; a tool for electronic caseload scheduling used in South Tyneside; and the TotalMobile system, an app that allows district nurses in Bristol to undertake mobile working.

Following lunch, Rachel Binks, a nurse consultant in digital and acute care at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, explained how her trust was using telehealth to work in the largely rural area. Ian Bailey, clinical informatics officer at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust showed the audience a video of what life for a district nurse could be like in the future. This included innovations such as sending patients texts when the district nurse is about to arrive at their house, having clips online of clinical procedures to refresh the district nurse's memory and show the patient what the nurse has done, and using conference calls to hold multi-disciplinary team meetings.

The final presentation of the day was given by Carrie Jackson, director of the England Centre for Practice Development at Canterbury Christ Church University, and Professor Alison Leary, the chair of healthcare and workforce modeling at London Southbank University. They spoke about the Cassandra tool that look at the complexity of community nurses' work, and to make them more visible. The tool was tested in Kent, Surrey, and Sussex by district and community nurses to test the work they did and didn't have time to do. Data analysis found that some tasks like continence management and falls management were often left out due to time constraints. The tool also found that clinical and non-clinical administration was the task that took the longest.

The event was closed by Dr Oldman, who summarised the event and the contribution made by the delegates.

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