A ward without walls? District nurses’ perceptions of their workload management priorities and job satisfaction

E. A. Haycock-Stuart, A. Jarvis, Katie Daniel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Aim.  To explore district nurses’ workload management, job satisfaction and the challenges they face.

Background.  This paper reports qualitative findings from a qualitative and quantitative study to identify a district nursing perspective on use of time, challenges and work satisfaction. District nursing is under increasing pressure because of the increasing shift to care in the community, early hospital discharge and changes in demography with an ageing population and more people with chronic illnesses.

Design.  Qualitive.

Method.  The study took place in one Scottish Health Board and data were collected in February and March 2005. The qualitative approach involved a total of 31 district nurses and senior managers in focus group discussions or individual interviews.

Results.  Three main themes were identified: (1) the priorities of district nurses and their views on work unrelated to ‘hands on’ clinical care, (2) aspects of district nursing considered stressful and (3) district nurses’ job satisfaction.

Conclusion.  District nurses and managers agree that caring work with patients is the priority for the service and provides job satisfaction. Many nurses feel overwhelmed by their workload and have little control over the admission of patients to their caseload; they are mainly demand led and therefore reactive care providers. A culture of long hours has developed as district nurses struggle to meet the needs of patients. Feeling devalued lowers satisfaction and Agenda for Change is perceived as de-valuing the skills of community nurses.

Relevance to clinical practice.  More clerical support is required so district nurses can deliver care to patients. District nurses can better represent their workload and how it is managed through expressing the nature of assessing risk and caring for patients as opposed to defining patients care needs by medical diagnoses. Extending the hours of the full district nursing service would benefit patients and staff.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3012-3020
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • community
  • district nursing
  • homecare
  • nurses
  • nursing
  • qualitative


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