Argyle C. Caring for carers: how community nurses can support carers of people with cancer. Br J Community Nurs. 2016; 21:(4)180-184

British Medical Association. Confirming and certifying death. 2019. (accessed 31 March 2020)

Byron S, Hoskins R. Implementing the “verification of expected death” policy in clinical practice. Br J Community Nurs. 2013; 18:(10)505-511

Department of Health and Social Care. End of life care strategy; promoting high quality care for all adults at the end of life. 2008. (accessed 31 March 2020)

Department of Health and Social Care. One chance to get it right: one year on. 2015. (accessed 31 March 2020)

Edwards E. Improving the experience of death verification in the community. Educ Prim Care. 2018; 29:(5)314-316

Epstein AS, Desai AV, Bernal C Giving voice to patient values throughout cancer: a novel nurse-led intervention. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2019; 58:(1)72-79.e2

Geake BG, Ryder R. A community nurse clinical competency framework. Br J Community Nurs. 2009; 14:(12)525-528

The myths about district nursing are putting off young graduates. 2018. (accessed 31 March 2020)

Griffith R. The changing nature of the district nurse patient relationship. Br J Community Nurs. 2016; 21:(6)311-313

Hospice UK. Registered Nurse Verification of Expected Death (RNVoEAD) guidance and competencies. 2019. (accessed 31 March 2020)

Ibañez-Masero O, Carmona-Rega IM, Ruiz-Fernández MD, Ortiz-Amo R, Cabrera-Troya J, Ortega-Galán ÁM. Communicating health information at the end of life: the caregivers' perspectives. Int J Environ Res Pub Health. 2019; 16:(14)

King's Fund. Understanding quality in district nursing services: learning from patients, carers and staff. 2016. (accessed 31 March 2020)

King's Fund. Community health services: our position. 2018. (accessed 31 March 2020)

Laverty D, Wilson J, Cooper M. Registered nurse verification of expected adult death: a response to situational challenges. Int J Palliat Nurs. 2019; 25:(7)354-355

Longstaff F. The case for renewed investment in the district nursing specialist practitioner qualification. Br J Community Nurs. 2013; 18:(9)446-450

Maxwell C, Brigham L, Logan J, Smith A. Challenges facing newly qualified community nurses: a qualitative study. Br J Community Nurs. 2011; 16:(9)428-434

Merlane H, Armstrong L. Advance care planning. Br J Nurs. 2020; 29:(2)96-97

National Bereavement Alliance. Life after death: six steps to improve support in bereavement. 2014. (accessed 31 March 2020)

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Quality Statement 13: Care after death-verification and certification. 2017. (accessed 31 March 2020)

NHS England. The north west end of life care model. 2015. (accessed 31 March 2020)

NHS England. The NHS long term plan. 2019. (accessed 31 March 2020)

NHS Improving Quality. Capacity, care planning and advanced care planning in life limiting illness: a guide for health and social care staff. 2014. (accessed 31 March 2020)

Nursing and Midwifery Council. The code. 2018. (accessed 31 March 2020)

Queen's Nursing Institute. 2020 vision. 5 years on: reassessing the future of district nursing. 2016. (accessed 31 March 2020)

Queen's Nursing Institute. Practice development in community palliative care. 2020. (accessed 31 March 2020)

Queen's Nursing Institute, Royal College of Nursing. Outstanding models of district nursing: a joint project identifying what makes an outstanding district nursing service. 2019. (accessed 31 March 2020)

Royal College of Nursing. Confirmation of death by registered nurses. 2019. (accessed 31 March 2020)

St Catherine's Hospice. Resources and training. 2020. (accessed 31 March 2020)

Verification of expected death in the community: role of the community specialist practitioner

02 May 2020
Volume 25 · Issue 5


In 2019, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI) recognised a significant reduction in the number of qualified district nurses (those who hold the Community Specialist Practitioner (CSP) qualification). Community nursing is an evolving role, and, with the role of community nurse expanding, the role of the CSP in supporting teams to adapt to the development of the role is more important than ever. As a leader, the CSP possesses skills in leadership and co-ordination of the team, alongside specialist knowledge of the provision of nursing care in community settings. This article seeks to explore the hidden practice of verification of expected adult deaths by registered nurses and how the CSP role is integral in developing and embedding this skill within a team.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) (2018) highlighted registered nurses' responsibility to ‘recognise and respond compassionately to the needs of those who are in the last few days and hours of life’. This can be considered in accordance with the North West End of Life Care Model (NHS England, 2015), which defines end-of-life care as a process that continues beyond the death of the patient. This model supports nurse-led verification of death where possible, with nurses best placed to respond with compassion and to maintain responsibility for the patient and their family after death has occurred.

It is relevant to recognise the difference between verification and certification of death. English law states that verification of an expected death does not need to be completed by a doctor (British Medical Association, 2019). The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) (2019) expands on this definition, describing verification of death as the process of confirming that death has occurred. Hospice UK (2019) further elaborates on this, adding that a nurse verifying death would also clarify the identity of the person who has died, note any implantable devices and make relevant notifications of any infectious diseases. Hospice UK (2019) then continues to describe certification of death as the completion of a medical certificate by a registered medical practitioner, detailing the cause of death as required by the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act (1953).

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting Community Nursing and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for district and community nurses. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month