District nurse

District nurses play a crucial role in the primary health care team. They visit people in their own homes or in residential care homes, providing increasingly complex care for patients and supporting family members.

This page has information on being a district nurse and links to further information. 

Working life 

As a district nurse, you'll 

Your patients could be any age, but they'll ofen be elderly, while others may have been recently discharged from hospital, be terminally ill or have physical disabilities.

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You'll be visiting patients every day or more than once a day, offering help, advice and support. You may work on your own or with other groups, such as the social services, voluntary agencies and other NHS organisations and help to provide and co-ordinate a wide range of care services.

As well as providing direct patient care, you'll have a teaching and support role, working with patients to enable them to care for themselves or with family members teaching them how to give care to their relatives. You'll also accountable for your own patient caseloads. 

You'll play a vital role in keeping hospital admissions and readmissions to a minimum and ensuring that patients can return to their own homes as soon as possible. 

Entry requirements and training

You need to a registered adult, child, mental health or learning disability nurse to apply for a district nursing training programmes.

District nurse training programmes are known as specialist practitioner programmes and are at degree level. You can also find courses at post graduate certificate and masters level. They are normally no less than one academic year (32 weeks) full time or part-time equivalent.

Specialist practitioner programmes comprise 50% theory and 50% practice and concentrate on four areas:

Community staff nurses can be funded onto a district nurse specialist practitioner programme via their employing organisation. Sponsorship opportunities are also available each year, usually with a September start, for applicants with the relevant registration and experience. These are advertised in the nursing press and the NHS Jobs website about six months prior to the start date.

'It's my job to assess and support patients, then co-ordinate a care package to give them the help they need.' Suzanne Whitwell, tissue viability nurse 

Read Suzanne's story 

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