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Job Photographs

  • A female district nurse, in blue uniform, is taking readings from a blood pressure machine attached to a patient who is sitting in front of her.

    Taking a patient's blood pressure in a local health centre.

  • A female district nurse, in blue uniform, is writing down some information on a sheet of paper.

    Updating the patient's records.

  • A female district nurse, in blue uniform, is standing by the side of a bed.  A patient is lying on the bed.  The nurse is adjusting the bed's position using a hand-held control.

    Adjusting a bed to make a patient more comfortable.

  • A female district nurse, in a blue uniform, is wrapping a bandage around a patient's leg while he sits up on a bed.

    Applying a bandage to the patient's leg.

  • A female district nurse, wearing a blue uniform, is about to inject a needle into a patient's arm as he sits up on a bed.

    Immunising a patient.

  • A female district nurse, wearing a blue uniform, is talking on the telephone.

    Using the telephone to organise a patient's discharge home from hospital.

  • Two female district nurses, wearing blue uniforms, are sitting at a desk and discussing a sheet of paper that one of the nurses is holding.

    Talking about the health centre's workload with another district nurse.

  • District Nurse

District Nurse

Introduction

As a District Nuse, you will play a crucial role in the primary health care team. You'll visit people in their own homes or in residential care homes, providing care for patients and supporting family members.

Also known as

  • Community Nurse
  • Nurse, District

Video: - Mandy: District Nurse

Work Activities

Nurses play a vital role in keeping people healthy. We tend to think of them as working in a hospital or GP surgery. And, of course, nurses do a fantastic job within those settings. But not every patient wants or needs to be taken out of their home. How do they receive their treatment? This is where the district nurse comes in.

District nurses take healthcare out into the community. They visit patients who may be in their own home, or in a residential care home. These nurses see people who in the past may have had to go into hospital. But, because of medical advancements, they can now be treated in their home.

District nurses visit patients every day, or maybe more than once a day, to offer help, advice, and support. They visit people with a wide variety of needs. Treatments include:

  • changing and applying wound dressings

  • injecting antibiotics
  • washing and cleaning patients
  • caring for the terminally ill
  • phlebotomy (taking blood)
  • The treatment and care that district nurses provide prevents patients having to stay or travel to a hospital. This keeps hospitals admissions down–which is a great thing.

    As well as providing direct patient care, these nurses have a teaching and support role. They work with patients, helping them to care for themselves. Or they may work with family members, teaching them how to give care to their relatives.

    Health education is a key part of the district nurse’s role. They help people in the community to understand health issues. This could be talking to new teenage mothers about infant care and birth control. People with diabetes sometimes need help to plan healthy meals. District nurses explain how diet can affect their sugar levels.

    Sometimes, district nurses may have to provide emergency care. This might be where a patient has suffered a fall, or a cardiac arrest.

    Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

    Personal Qualities and Skills

    To become a District Nurse, you will need:

    • excellent people skills
    • good communication and observation skills
    • ability to answer questions and offer advice
    • happy to work as part of a team
    • to be able to deal with emotionally charged situations
    • compassion
    • commitment

    Pay and Opportunities

    Pay

    NHS employees are paid on a rising scale within defined pay bands, according to their skills and responsibilities. The pay rates given below are approximate.

    • Band 5: £24,214 - £30,112

    Salaries in the private sector are broadly similar to those of the NHS.

    Hours of work

    Nurses work 37.5 hours a week. Shift work is usual. Some employers offer flexitime working, and overtime is common.

    Where could I work?

    Employers include:

    • the NHS (in hospitals and in the community)
    • private healthcare providers
    • charities
    • the armed forces
    • the prison service

    There are also opportunities to work in other countries (some countries require extra qualifications).

    Opportunities occur in towns, cities and rural areas throughout the UK.

    Where are vacancies advertised?

    Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, on recruitment and employers' websites, and on Find a Job (www.gov.uk/jobsearch).

    For vacancies in the NHS visit NHS Jobs at (www.jobs.nhs.uk).

    Social media websites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, are a great way to network, find vacancies and get in contact with possible employers. Make sure that your profile presents you in a professional manner that will appeal to potential employers.

    Take a look at our General Information Article 'Finding Work Online'.

    Entry Routes and Training

    Entry routes and training

    To qualify as a District Nurse, you must complete a pre-registration degree course in nursing. The course must be approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

    Nursing degrees usually take three years to complete (four in Scotland). There are a small number of part-time degree courses for people employed as assistant practitioners in the NHS.

    In Wales, nursing degree courses take from two-four years to complete depending on which course you are studying. In Wales, there are undergraduate part time, fulltime and postgraduate entry routes into nursing available. The part time routes are usually undertaken by healthcare support workers who are already employed within one on the Health Boards or Trusts within Wales. Return to practice funding is available (www.weds.wales.nhs.uk/return-to-practice).

    You might be able to use previous learning or practical experience to complete your degree in a shorter time. This is through accreditation of prior (experiential) learning or APEL. Some universities reduce the pre-registration time by as much as one year. Examples of previous learning might include a relevant degree subject or practical experience of nursing, care or a related area.

    The Department of Health and Social Care has announced two new entry routes into nursing:

    • Nursing apprenticeship - You are now able to become an apprentice Nurse. Exactly where you start the degree apprenticeship will depend upon your current qualifications and experience, although the course will not require GCSE English or Maths. You will learn all the skills you require to become a Nurse on-the-job, whilst taking time to complete your degree at university.

    • Nursing Associate - You can now begin working as a Nursing Associate. This role will consist of on-the-job training, and will provide a route from health and care support roles into fully qualified nursing. You will work under the direction of a qualified Nurse and work towards a Level 5 qualification. You can then top this up to a degree in order to become a qualified Nurse.

    Important Note: The Nursing Degree Apprenticeship and Nursing Associate are not available in Wales. In Wales the entry route into nursing is through a degree course in nursing, a bursary is available. To find out how to apply for the bursary visit www.nwssp.wales.nhs.uk/student-awards

    The Degree Course

    On your degree course, you will spend the first year completing the Common Foundation Programme (CFP). This covers a general introduction to nursing and develops your observational, communication and caring skills.

    From the second year of the course onwards, you would specialise in one of the four fields of nursing:

    • adult nursing
    • children's nursing
    • mental health nursing
    • learning disability nursing

    Some courses have a general title, such as 'nursing', while others tell you which field you will follow in the title, such as 'nursing (adult)'. Some universities and colleges of higher education don't offer all four fields after the CFP, so please check college/university websites carefully. There are also a small number of courses that combine nursing with a social work qualification.

    In Wales you will study fundamental nursing practice within your field of nursing, as well as develop clinical, management and leadership skills. You will also have the opportunity to undertake placements across a wide range of healthcare settings. Full details of the course contents can be found on the websites of the universities that offer these programmes within Wales.

    A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

    What kind of Nurse will you be?

    Having qualified through one of the four fields and gained some experience, you can gain 'post-registration' qualifications and work in a broad range of specialist roles such as District Nurse, Occupational Health Nurse, Theatre Nurse, Health Visitor or School Nurse.

    Direct training to become a Midwife is through a degree in midwifery. Qualified Nurses can also take training courses to become Midwives.

    If you are thinking of becoming a Nurse and then training to be a Midwife, District Nurse or Occupational Health Nurse later on, you should think carefully about which field of nursing you train to do. It can be difficult to get on a training course if you haven't gone through the adult nursing field.

    You might be able to enter a degree after completing a foundation degree in a relevant subject.

    It can be possible to enter a nursing degree course after a relevant Advanced Level Apprenticeship.

    Progression

    There are lots of possibilities for progression. You could move into a management or research position. Some Nurses progress to trainer posts, teaching student Nurses. You can also take further advanced or specialist training, for example, to become a Midwife, District Nurse or Occupational Health Nurse.

    Work Experience

    Some employers enable experienced staff in relevant positions (such as Senior Healthcare Assistants or Assistant Practitioners) to take a pre-registration degree course part-time on full salary, as long as they meet the usual entry requirements.

    Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

    This career is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to. This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.

    Qualifications

    In Wales the entry criteria for a pre-registration nursing degree courses can vary across universities. Typical entry requirements are:

    • A levels
    • Welsh BACC
    • access to higher education
    • BTEC
    • 5 GCSEs including maths and English language
    • degree in relevant subject for post graduate entry course

    It is worth contacting the university if you do not hold any of the typical qualifications above to discuss further

    For entry onto a nursing degree course in England, the usual requirement is:

    • 2 or 3 A levels - some universities ask for at least one science subject
    • 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 and above, including English, maths and a science subject

    Entry can also be possible with alternative level 3 qualifications such as:

    • NVQs
    • BTECs
    • City & Guilds
    • Cambridge Technicals
    • the International Baccalaureate Diploma

    However, course requirements vary, so please check college/university websites very carefully.

    Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

    Adult Opportunities

    Age limits

    It is illegal for organisations to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

    Skills/experience

    Some employers enable experienced staff in relevant positions (such as senior healthcare assistants or assistant practitioners) to take a pre-registration degree course part-time on full salary, as long as they meet the usual entry requirements.

    Applicants who left full-time education some time ago may be required to give evidence of successful recent academic study, such as a QAA accredited access to higher education course or equivalent.

    Courses

    If you don't have the qualifications that are usually needed to enter a nursing degree course, you might be able to start one after completing a college or university Access course, for example, Access to Nursing. You don't usually need any qualifications to start an Access course, but you should check individual course details.

    It can be possible to enter a nursing degree course after completing an Advanced Level Apprenticeship, for example, in Health and Social Care; Health - Clinical Healthcare Support; or Health - Allied Health Profession Support. This will depend on individual university entry requirements.

    Other possible routes into a nursing degree can be an NVQ/Diploma level 3 in a relevant subject or modular course credits from the Open University.

    You might be able to use previous learning or practical experience to complete your degree in a shorter time. This is through accreditation of prior (experiential) learning or APEL. Some universities reduce the pre-registration time by as much as one year. Examples of previous learning might include a relevant degree subject or practical experience of nursing, care or a related area.

    There are a small number of pre-registration MSc or postgraduate diploma courses, usually for graduates in health or science-related degrees (some universities consider graduates with a degree in any subject).

    If you've had a break from nursing and want to return to the NHS, you'll need to complete a Return to Practice (RTP) programme that is approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). The programmes refresh clinical skills and there are classroom sessions to discuss theory. Many RTP courses are part-time. Find out more about Return to Practice within Wales.

    Funding in Wales

    RTP course are funded in Wales, tuition fees are paid and a bursary of £1,000 will be available to each nursing student, with £1,500 available for midwives, undertaking an accredited return to practice course.

    Funding the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme

    The Welsh Government through the Welsh NHS fund the education and training for a range of health professional education courses. The full NHS Wales bursary scheme is available to UK residents and EU nationals that have been ordinarily resident in the UK for three years prior to the start of the course, and who commit to working in Wales following completion of their programme. EU nationals not resident in the UK who commit to work in Wales following completion of their programme can access funding for the tuition fees only and will not be eligible to access the full NHS Wales Bursary Scheme.

    The full NHS Wales Bursary scheme includes the following:

    • the cost of tuition fees
    • a bursary for living costs, including a £1,000 non means tested grant and a means tested bursary. In addition students are supported for costs such as travel, accommodation (whilst on placement), Childcare, Disabled Student Allowance, Dependents Allowance and Parental Learning Allowance.
    • If eligible, you will have access to a reduced student loan (subject to Student Loans Company Regulations)
    • Please note that individuals who already have a first degree and are undertaking a pre-registration programme e.g. Physicians Associate, MSc/PG Dip Nursing, PG Dip Dietetics and PG Dip Occupational Therapy programmes are not eligible to apply for a reduced student loan, however they will have access to all other elements of the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme.

    Individuals who do not feel they can commit to work in Wales following completion of their programme will not be eligible to receive the benefits of the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme; however, they will still be able to study in Wales and will be able to access the following support:

    • Welsh domiciled students will have access to the standard student support package available from Student Finance Wales.
    • Non-Welsh domiciled students, will continue to be eligible to study in Wales but will need to secure funding from an alternative sources, this may include funding from the relevant funding body in their home country or self finance etc.

    Once students have received an offer of a training place from an NHS Wales agreed provider they will need to decide whether they wish to commit to work in Wales prior to applying for either the NHS Wales Bursary or the standard student finance package.

    More information about the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme can be accessed on the Student awards Services website: http://www.nwssp.wales.nhs.uk/course-starts-on-or-after-1-september-20

    Funding in England

    The Government has recently announced changes to the way that health courses are to be funded from 2017 onwards. Important: This does not apply in Wales.

    From 2017, students applying to study a health course will need to apply for a student loan - in the same way that students on non-health courses currently do.

    Under the student loan system, students will be able to apply for non-repayable grants to help with the following:

    • Additional childcare
    • Adult dependants
    • Parent learning costs
    • Travel to placements

    Students with a disability can also apply for additional grants to help pay the extra essential costs they may have whilst studying on a higher education course as a direct result of their disability, through the Disabled Students' Allowance.

    Currently, student loans are generally paid back over a 30 year period and repayment is contingent on earnings. Graduates do not begin to pay back their loans until the April after they graduate, and then only if they are earning over £21,000 per year. If their income drops below £21,000 for any reason (part-time working, career break) their repayments cease.

    The loan repayments are paid at a rate of 9% of any earnings over £21,000.

    Further Information

    Professional institutions

    Professional institutions have the following roles:

    • To support their members.
    • To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.

    For more information on the institution(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts below.

    Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

    National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

    Tel: 0800 015 0400

    Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

    Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

    NHS Wales Careers

    Publisher: National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare

    Email: abm.wedsteam@wales.nhs.uk

    Website: www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/829/page/36090

    NHS Jobs

    Website: www.jobs.nhs.uk

    Step into the NHS

    NHS careers

    Tel: 0345 6060655

    Website: www.stepintothenhs.nhs.uk

    Skills for Health

    Skills for the health sector

    Address: Goldsmiths House, Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP

    Tel: 0117 9221155

    Email: office@skillsforhealth.org.uk

    Website: www.skillsforhealth.org.uk

    Queen's University Belfast

    Irish enquiries

    Website: www.qub.ac.uk

    Open University (OU)

    Tel: 0845 3006090

    Website: www.open.ac.uk

    University of Ulster

    Irish enquiries

    Tel: 028 7012 3456

    Website: www.ulster.ac.uk

    NHS Education for Scotland (NES)

    Scottish enquiries

    Address: Westport 102, West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DN

    Tel: 0131 6563200

    Email: enquiries@nes.scot.nhs.uk

    Website: www.nes.scot.nhs.uk

    NHS Business Services Authority

    Website: www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk

    Royal College of Nursing (RCN)

    Address: 20 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0RN

    Tel: 0345 7726100

    Email: rcn.library@rcn.org.uk

    Website: www.rcn.org.uk

    Nursing and Midwifery Council

    Address: 23 Portland Place, Marylebone, City of Westminster, London W1B

    Tel: 020 7637 7181

    Email: UKenquiries@nmc-uk.org

    Website: www.nmc-uk.org

    Nursing Careers

    Tel: 0345 6060655

    Website: nursing.nhscareers.nhs.uk

    Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland

    Scottish enquiries

    Address: 42 South Oswald Road, Edinburgh EH9 2HH

    Tel: 0345 7726100

    Email: scottish.board@rcn.org.uk

    Website: www.rcn.org.uk

    Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland

    Irish enquiries

    Address: 18-20 Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, County Dublin

    Tel: 01 6398500

    Email: ncc@nursingboard.ie

    Website: www.nursingboard.ie

    Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

    Tel: 0800 028 4844

    Website: ams.careerswales.com/

    People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

    Public sector recruitment portal for Wales

    Email: peopleexchangecymru@gov.wales

    Website: www.peopleexchangecymru.org.uk/home

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