District nurses are qualified nurses who have undertaken an additional qualification to enable them to assess, plan and provide appropriate programmes of care for patients. They play a crucial role in the delivery and maintenance of community based health care services. They provide nursing care to people in their own homes, in residential care settings and in the independent sector.
They work with other sectors of the NHS to provide a co-ordinated and effective treatment regime that extends from the surgery to the home. They support family and informal care and in doing so prevent admissions and re-admissions to hospitals and facilitate the early discharge of patients.
"District Nurses work across the health and social care boundaries wherever multi-professional, multi-agency services are required. They are best placed to take on the role as the co-ordinator of care."
Their primary roles include:
- Blood pressure
- Diabetes monitoring, onsite and in the patients home.
By teaching patients self administration of insulin and blood Glucose monitoring and control, the district nurses advise both existing and newly diagnosed diabetics giving support to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Blood pressure control, footcare, eye screening (with St Pauls eye clinic) are also an important part of the role of the district nurse in maintianing longterm control.
The District Nurses also liase with Diabetic Nurse Specialist at the appropriate hospital.
- Palliative Care/Symptom Control: The district Nurse can arrange a package of care which includes liasoning with other health care professional and the voluntary sector to enable the patients to stay at home and preventing uneccessary hospital admission.
Nurses are also involved in the monitoring of pain control, liaison with MacMillan Nurses who specialise in this branch of Palliative care.
Support and counselling to the patients and their families is an important part of the Nurses role in Palliative care.
- Ordering home loans for patients
Ordering equipment for patients that can be used at home to improve the activities of daily living and maintaining independence.
For example: Walking Sticks, Walking Frames, Wheelchairs, commodes Lifting Hoists and Specialist Cushions & Mattresses for frail patients.
- Liase with other agencies within the primary health care team, eg. GP's, Health Visitors, social workers and Voluntary agencies, who all work towards the care of the patient in the community.
- Teach self care
Getting the patients to become involved in their own care is a major step towards making them feel more confident about themselves and bringing them back into the community.
- Case Conferences
Attend Case conferences with other health care professionals, regarding planning for current and future health care.
Patients may be asked to give samples of blood so that they may be screened for Diabetes, Aneamia etc. Patients will be able to provide blood samples at either the clinic's run by the district nurse's or through home visits.
District Nurses are responsible for assessment of vulnerable patients for flu injections. These may be given onsite in the clinic and at patients homes.