Community nursing makes an enormous contribution.
With their expert clinical skills and leadership, community nurses provide invaluable, highly complex care across every village, town and city in England. They are critical in keeping us all healthy and supporting us to live well through every phase of life.
Often delivering and coordinating the complexity of 24/7 care and supervising the management of multiple long-term conditions, they ensure that people maximise their independence and, wherever possible, avoid going into hospital or a care home. Many people would be unable to live at home without the support that they get from community nurses and their teams.
Nurses in the community provide complex care through life. This includes:
- safe and healthy birth and early years development
- maintaining population health and wellbeing
- avoiding hospital admission and delivering acute care at home
- enabling rapid hospital discharge
- long-term care
- end-of-life care.
There are challenges to tackle in securing a successful future for community nursing
The way services are commissioned, how community nursing is seen and valued, and the awareness of varied career pathways are all areas to work on. Tackling these challenges needs change at every level, from the public and political, to system leadership and education, and across more than 86,000 community nurses who make up the workforce.
Community nursing also needs support to recover from the impact of COVID-19 in order to build on the many successes of its efforts in responding to the pandemic.
The work of community nurses is often misunderstood or not seen by others
Sometimes referred to as ‘the invisible workforce’, community nurses often work in settings that are not seen by others (portrayed as ‘wards without walls’).
Evidence points to a lack of awareness of the range and complexity of care and the economic value that community nursing brings to the NHS and to local communities.
More awareness is needed of the varied career pathways available
Ensuring we have enough community nurses to fulfil the ambitions for integrated care needs those considering their career options to understand the breadth and depth of what community nursing has to offer.
This includes changing some of the misperceptions that exist, for example that you have to start a nursing career in a hospital setting.
Community nursing is fragmented and commissioned in different ways
The hugely diverse community nursing workforce is spread across more than 1,500 organisations of all sizes.
Around half are NHS, with the others including local authorities, GP practices, hospices and social enterprises.
Making changes in commissioning to ensure the community nursing workforce is organised, resourced and supported for a successful future is a significant challenge.