What is District Nursing?

District Nursing is an ever evolving service, highly responsive to changes and challenges in order to provide high quality individualised care within the community setting. 

About District Nursing

District Nursing

District Nursing is an evolving service which is highly responsive to changes and challenges in order to provide high quality individualised care and services within the community setting. 

District Nursing has a long history that predates the National Health Service. Current debates in health care policy and practice could be seen as questioning the fundamental nature of District Nursing practice.

There may be room for debate around the title of ‘District Nurse’ but in relation to the future role…


“There exists a clear vision and a determination that the district nurse of the future shall deliver a flexible, high quality and forward thinking service that works in partnership with diverse communities to place the patient at the centre of care delivery”.

(Boran and Clarridge 2005, p145).

District Nurses are accountable for the care and care planning for individuals and carers with a range of needs including the management of those with complex care needs. In addition to holistic needs assessment and the skilled care of individuals, District Nurses undertake service review and health needs assessment with the aim of coordinating or influencing the development of services.


With good communication and advocacy skills, District Nurses are able to act or speak on behalf of those individuals who are often least able to be involved in influencing service delivery (individuals who are house bound).

What DN students say

What District Nurse students say about District Nursing...

When asked what it means to be a District Nurse, a range of views are expressed by the public, patients, District Nurses themselves and by the students of District Nursing.

“District nurses have many roles. They undertake complex patient assessments which help to reduce/shorten hospital admissions. They are responsible for managing teams of staff and delegating work according to skill mix. As well as providing nursing care to patients in their own homes they provide health education and promote healthy lifestyles and work closely with other members of the MDT to facilitate care packages. They are frontline workers responding to the needs of the community.”

District Nursing as art and science

“To me, District Nursing is an art and the district nurse is the artist. We meet people in different colour phases of their lives, be it the black times or the shady times, we meet them when they are stuck in that abstract phase. As the artist we help them to understand those colours, and hopefully bring them, and their families out of the abstract and into the clear. We are the ones who arrange the colours on the palette, because we are the ones at the heart of the community. We are the ones who provide the light in the darkness, the ones who give direction to the flow of colour. What we need to do as a group is keep our images sharp and focused and not let those images be dulled by those who think they know best.

Bringing order to the chaos

The district nurses’ role is pivotal in providing nursing care to patients in the community that have a diverse range of conditions.  Fundamental aspects of this role are health promotion, illness prevention, patient and carer support and empowerment. The DN should be an innovative leader, with the ability to undertake complex patient assessments and have a commitment to delivering excellence.”


“A District nurse is the one who is relied upon to bring “order to the chaos” and to at least make people feel better. They are a conduit between Healthcare and the masses. District nurses Care”

The changing nature of District Nurisng

“District nursing has evolved through many different social, political and cultural transitions. Despite this the vocation has retained a complex of core principles that provide the foundation on which community nursing has stood for 150 years. The district nurse is a dynamic individual that responds swiftly; with knowledge, decision and humility to the needs of the community of which she is integral.”

“In my area we are now a business but I would also like to think that we are always striving to make our practice safer and more effective… carrying out holistic assessments aiming to provide the highest quality individualised care possible and promoting independence and education.”

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Meet The Team

Julie Bliss

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Julie is Programme Leader at King's College London and commenced her role as ADNE Chair in November 2015. 

Mark Millar

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Mark is District Nurse programme leader at the University of Hertfordshire. He has been Secretary since November 2016.

Kellie Norris


Kellie is a programme leader for the district nurse course at Anglia Ruskin University. She has been the Treasurer since November 2016. 

Jill Gould

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Website Manager

Jill is a programme leader for Non-medical prescribing at the University of Derby. She is currently the website manager & enjoys all things IT related.

© 2019 by ADNE

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