The use of digital devices by district nurses in their assessment of service users
District nursing services are relentless in adapting to change and continuously seek different methods to improve the care they offer to service users. One of the relatively new changes where adaptation has been necessary is the use of digital devices to record assessments and work in real time. As documented in The NHS Long Term Plan (NHS) (2019), the NHS is being required to grow into the new digital age and, subsequently, district nurses (DNs) have needed to embrace the use of a paper-lite system. Although beneficial overall, the use of technology is a threat to the person-centred nursing approach used in assessment, which is the highest fundamental value in nursing. This article will seek to conceptualise the importance of a person-centred initial assessment with a service user who has either a long-term and/or a lifelong condition whilst considering the use of digital devices, benefits, and drawbacks of their use. It will emphasise the role of the DN, encompassing the multidisciplinary services throughout, whilst also considering any recommendations for further development.
District nursing services have grown significantly and have adapted to the communities they serve, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019. The service provides a lifeline for people who want to maintain and manage their independence and health conditions whether it be long-term, life-long or even acute. Additionally, the district nursing service aims to prevent or reduce hospital admissions by providing a person-centred approach to care (Maybin et al, 2018). Person-centred care is committed to empowering service users and ensuring their preferences, needs and values are included to enable collaborative support and treatment (Price, 2019). In 2018, in England there were approximately 4000 district nurses (DNs) (who hold the specialist qualification as opposed to community nurses) who were available to provide such care to approximately 55.8 million people (Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI), 2019a), a ratio of one DN for every 14 000 people, illustrating the demand in care. Concerningly, the QNI (2019a) also reported that the number of qualified DNs had reduced by 46% over the past decade, capturing the risk of a depleting service and task-focused care (Maybin et al, 2018).
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