Community nurses, also known as district nurses, play a crucial role in the primary health care team.
They are qualified nurses who provide care and support for patients out of hospital, mostly in patients' own homes, in clinics based in GP surgeries or within health centres.
They can be assisted by health care assistants who may visit to assist with tasks that need extra hands, but surprisingly few people know about how much they really do.
Community and district nurses have to be adaptable to a variety of workplaces and provide care without the resource of a hospital environment.
It involves working alongside patients with different requirements including older people with health problems, people who are physically disabled, patients who have been discharged from hospital who require ongoing treatment or those who are terminally ill.
Working with a variety of patients, community nurses need to have an excellent level of communication – being able to talk and listen at the right time.
It may be difficult for the patient to communicate back, especially if their health has affected their speech or movement, so patience and understanding are vital.
To be a community or district nurse you will need to be able to relate to people of all ages and backgrounds. You will need to be available to provide emotional support and advice to family or friends explaining the status of their health or clarifying what actions need to be taken by themselves or their loved ones.
In addition to the clinical care, community nurses provide a teaching and supportive role, working with patients to promote independence and enabling them to care for themselves. It may also involve educating loved ones to assist with the care programme or helping to encourage a healthier lifestyle to accelerate the healing process.
Benefits to the community
Nurses within the community help to keep hospital admissions down, freeing up beds for critical cases and preventing long admission times.
It also allows patients to feel comfortable in their own living space and helps to build trust and a closer relationship between the nurse and patient. This is compared to a hospital environment where it is likely that a patient will receive care from a number of nurses over the time of their admission.
Find out more
If you are interested in learning more about the full range of opportunities we have to offer community nurses, please browse our latest jobs.