What does a district nurse do?

District nurses are a type of senior community nurse that provides care to patients in their own homes and in residential care homes. They also support the family members of the patient. District nurses play an important role in keeping hospital admissions and re-admissions to a minimum. 

If you’re looking to expand into district nursing, our detailed guide has you covered. We have outlined the role and responsibilities of a district nurse, the qualifications that are needed, working hours and salary information.  

The role of a district nurse

The responsibilities of a district nurse can vary, but some of the most common duties include:

  • Assessing the healthcare needs of patients 
  • Monitoring the level of care patients receive 
  • Offering advice and support to families 
  • Providing complex care for patients 
  • Prescribing medication 
  • Assessing patients’ needs for at-home equipment, such as mobility aids or specialist beds 
  • Follow-up care for inpatients recently discharged from hospital 
  • Monitoring the quality of care that patients are receiving 
  • Working collaboratively with general practitioners to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions 

As a district nurse, you’ll likely be visiting your patients every day, or in some cases, more than once a day, to provide support. 

Often, a district nurse’s patients will be elderly and/or may have recently been discharged from hospital or have physical disabilities, meaning they need extra care. In some cases, patients may also be terminally ill and need palliative care. 

Interested in joining us?

Find out more about what is needed to join us. Browse the specialisms that we’re currently recruiting for at Thornbury.

Essential district nurse skills and qualities

To be a good district nurse, you will need to have the following skills and qualities: 

  • Adaptable and able to remain calm in challenging situations 
  • Confident and personable 
  • Ability to lead and manage a team 
  • Good communication and listening skills 
  • Collaborative 
  • Compassionate and understanding 

What qualifications do you need to be a district nurse?

You must already be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) as an adult, child, disability or mental health nurse in order to apply for any district nursing training programmes. This means you will already need to have obtained a degree in nursing. 

A district nurse training programme is at degree level and is known as specialist practitioner programme. There are also courses available to take at a master’s degree or postgraduate certificate level. These types of courses will likely take one academic year to complete and comprise of 50% theory and 50% practical studies. Employers may sponsor community staff nurses who want to progress to specialist district nurse practitioner programmes. The four areas of study include: 

  • Clinical nursing practice 
  • Care and programme management 
  • Clinical practice development 
  • Clinical practice leadership 

Do district nurses work weekends?

Yes – it’s likely you will work some weekends. Typically, you will be working a standard working week, which is around 37.5 hours. This will be dictated by a shift pattern, including evenings, weekends, nights, weekends and bank holidays. 

Do district nurses work nights?

As for most nursing specialisms, a district nurse’s standard working week will be around 37.5 hours on a shift pattern which can include nights, early starts, evenings, weekends and bank holidays. 

Where do district nurses work?

District nurses will spend the majority of their time working in people’s homes. However, they can also work in other community settings such as care homes, local clinics and health centres. 

What band is a district nurse?

A district nurse typically starts as a Band 6 nurse. With more experience and training, they can level up to higher bands over time.  

How much do district nurses get paid?

District nurses working for the NHS will be paid on the Agenda for Change (AFC) pay system. As they usually start at Band 6, they can earn the following: 

  • <2 years’ experience – £35,392 
  • 2-5 years – £37,350 
  • 5+ years – £42,618 

District nurses that work through an agency, such as Thornbury Nursing, can expect to earn higher rates of pay. For example, a district nurse with Thornbury can earn up to £54.50, plus more for bank holidays.  

Can district nurses prescribe medication?

Yes – district nurses can provide medication to patients in a similar way to general practitioner doctors. This is to ensure the patients are cared for in their own homes, or residential homes, avoiding A&E and the GP surgery. 

What is a district nurse’s career development?

As is the case with many healthcare workers, once you are qualified as a district nurse, there are vast opportunities for career development. With experience, you could progress into the following roles and areas: 

  • Community matron, managing a team of community professionals 
  • Consultant district nurse, leading and influencing service policy development at a strategic level 
  • Leadership and management, taking on a role such as the Head of Community Nursing for a trust or other healthcare organisation 
  • Teaching and education, which can include becoming a university lecturer 
  • Clinical research 

District nursing roles with Thornbury 

We’re continually searching for qualified district nurses to join our team to work in temporary, last-minute placements in NHS and private settings. You’ll need to work to our high standards, and, in return, you’ll receive full professional support and fantastic pay rates from us.  

If you’re a qualified district nurse looking for roles across England and Wales, with high pay rates and exclusive benefits, register online with us today. 

Register with Thornbury

We are looking for exceptional nurses and midwives to join our team. Register with Thornbury to access high rates of pay, paid mileage and support with revalidation.

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