Transforming care for older people by developing future leaders within community nursing

Reference # QNIS\2
Date April 2020-Present
Funding £105,000
Project lead Clare Cable
Organisation Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland

Summary: Community nurses are a diverse and essential part of care for older people. Developing community nurses to become leaders and changemakers empowers them to meet the changing and growing needs of older people. The Queen’s Nurse Development Programme provides a framework for community nurses in Scotland to encourage and nurture the professional leader within. 

Wherever possible, care and support for older people should be delivered away from hospital. Community nurses are often in the best position to help older people live comfortably in their homes. However, Scotland’s health inequalities and unique island geography can make community nursing particularly challenging.

The Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS) promotes excellence in community nursing. The Queen’s Nurse programme aims to help nurses become effective leaders in their communities, to transform health and care, and be ready for future pressures.

We are creating a social movement of nurses who are really making a difference to the health and wellbeing of the people of Scotland and we’re doing that one conversation at a time.

Clare Cable, Chief Executive and Nurse Director

Developing future leaders within community nursing

Community nurses help the NHS meet the needs of older, disabled, or vulnerable people. They have in-depth knowledge of the challenges those they care for face on a daily basis. This familiarity with lived experience means they should play an important part in leading change to build an NHS in Scotland that works for the people who need it most.

The community nursing workforce includes a vast number of diverse roles and people. The Dunhill Medical Trust co-funds the Queen’s Nurse programme for candidates working with older, frailer adults – such as primary care nurses working on remote islands, community mental health nurses, those working in care homes and community hospitals, as well as district nurses.

Following a personal journey not curriculum

The Queen’s Nurse programme is a nine month transformational development programme empowering nurses to become changemakers in the communities they serve. We are creating a social movement of nurses who are really making a difference to the health and wellbeing of the people of Scotland and we’re doing that one conversation at a time.

The programme doesn’t teach new technical skills, but provides a space for candidates to reflect, build self-belief and increase their confidence. The nurses take part in residential workshops, one-on-one coaching, intensive peer support and commit to leading an improvement project within their community. As well as facilitators and coaches, candidates get access to a number of inspiring, external leaders who share their own stories.

It’s possible to make lasting connections and develop people online

We found that peer support among the nurses provided just as much learning as the workshops and coaches. The nurses are inspired by each other, getting to know about other nurses’ roles and responsibilities, supporting and challenging one another on the journey.

The 2020 cohort was the first of three cohorts the DMT is supporting. The programme started a week before the COVID-19 lockdown, which meant that the group had a chance to come together in-person and prepare for what happened next. Then we rapidly adapted and redesigned the programme as an online experience.

We recognised the need for more support during the pandemic. The 2020 cohort had monthly, online evening sessions to check-in and keep up the self-care and self-reflective aspects of the programme. The peer support was also greater with the nurses turning to each other for emotional support using a range of social media.

To help us decide whether to go ahead with a 2021 programme, we surveyed the 2020 cohort. Their feedback told us it was possible to provide a safe space online for transformational development. As a result, our 2021 cohort went ahead – with careful design – completely virtually. The bonds between the 2021 nurses seem extraordinary considering many of them didn’t meet until restrictions began to lift.

Supportive funders make a difference

The DMT have supported us through major changes including putting the programme online. They’ve also continued to support us despite recent candidates not being able to do as much work on their local improvement projects.

As well as the programme, the DMT supports QNIS’s wider mission – to create a social movement of health and care practitioners who can think beyond their daily tasks to tackle issues of inequality and support communities to live better.

We were fortunate to be able to bring the 2020 and 2021 cohorts together in October and delighted that Sarah Allport from the DMT was able to join us. We are looking forward to welcoming our new Queen’s Nurses in the 2022 cohort who will start in March 2022.

Find out more

Watch this animation to find out more about the history of the Queen’s Nursing Award. 

Read about the contemporary Queen’s Nurses excellence profile and meet Scotland’s new Queen’s Nurses here.