What I’ve Learnt: District Nursing

All the dressings

A DN placement is probably the main place where students learn all about dressings, and there are a lot. This is a really transferable skill that not all nurses outside of this speciality maintain, so keep at it.

Respecting how people live

You will visit a lot of people, both affluent and downright poor, all of which live very different lives in very different environments. It’s really important that we respect how everyone chooses to live and not judge them.

Wounds assessment

Like with the dressings, a DN placement is somewhere you can really get to grips with the intricacies of wound assessments. You’ll see a vast range of different wounds, from leg ulcers to surgical wounds. Also take the time to go out with your local tissue viability nurse and learn everything you can from them.

Lonely patients

There are a lot of lonely isolated patients hidden out in the community. What I never appreciated before going out with the DN team was that often we were the only people they saw that day, or that week, or ever.

Vulnerable patients

Right in line with the lonely patients are those that are vulnerable, and often these can even be the same people. Those patients who are elderly, live alone or with their elderly spouse/friend, they often have multiple comorbidities. At the beginning of my placement I found it really odd to be entering these patients houses, often using a designated key safe, rather than the person answering the door themselves.

Intro to palliative care

This was my first introduction to palliative care during my nurse training, predominantly in the form of syringe drivers which the nurses would go and change once a day depending on symptoms management. This is a great opportunity to see the impact of nurses during this period of the patient’s life and everything they can do to help someone achieve a ‘good death’. And make sure you spend time with the palliative care nurses in the community and see the wonderful things they do.

Leg clubs

Something that have been around for a long time but fell out of fashion in Cornwall, has now made a come back and is doing really well. On the day of the club, volunteer services and families/friends/carers bring the patient into a local healthcare centre (such as a community hospital or GP surgery) to have their legs dressed alongside other patients, encouraging a more community style treatment, allowing patients to chat and get to know each other.

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