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Compassionate leadership in district nursing: a case study of a complex wound

02 February 2019
Volume 24 · Issue 2


This article encourages nurses to explore leadership in district nursing practice and community teams. The challenges faced by district nurses are discussed in relation to the current health policy agenda in Wales and the increasingly complex care demands being placed on district nursing services because of the aging population and the rise in numbers of individuals living longer with multiple long-term health conditions. The concept of compassionate leadership is presented and discussed using a case study approach. The article explores compassionate leadership in the context of caring for a patient with a complex malignant wound needing palliative care. A framework for practice is developed to illustrate compassionate leadership in action to meet the needs of both the team and of the nurses delivering person-centred care.

The current health policy agenda in Wales and across the UK emphasises the value and importance of providing care closer to the patient's home or community. Healthcare services will need to change and adapt to meet this policy agenda (Welsh Government (WG), 2018), with the result that community nurses in particular will need to lead and deliver care in an increasingly challenging environment. Investing in the development of a skilled community workforce is imperative if these challenges are to be overcome. In Wales, there is an ever-increasing healthcare demand associated with an aging population, where individuals are living longer with complex coexisting long-term health conditions (WG, 2014). In achieving the aim of providing care closer to home, district nurses (DNs) may be seen as key players, reflecting their role as providers of care for patients within their own homes (Welsh Assembly Government (WAG), 2009). This view is supported by the Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI) (2009), which identified DNs as the main providers of care in the home and community setting. It is suggested that one in four people over the age of 75 years and one in two people over the age of 85 years require care from a community nurse at home.

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