The essence of 'community' within community nursing: a district nursing perspective

Health Soc Care Community. 2003 Sep;11(5):423-30. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2524.2003.00445.x.


Over the past decade or so, there has been a marked shift in the location and nature of nursing care from the hospital setting to primary and community care. The past decade has also witnessed the development of a number of policy initiatives which indicate that the drive towards the community as a key location of nursing care is set to continue. Although notions of community have been explored extensively within the literature from a number of perspectives, there is an absence of a clear definition, and more particularly for the purposes of the present study, one from a nursing perspective. This lack of conceptual clarity is further compounded when notions of community and the place of nursing within the community are considered contemporaneously. The present pilot study, which was based on semi-structured interviews with district nurses, seeks to address this deficit and explore how district nurses define the nature of their role, both in terms of providing nursing care within the community and also in terms of defining community within the context of their work. The study illuminates the principal position of the home in defining the essence of community within community nursing and notions surrounding the nature of relationships which exist within this setting. This is highlighted through the identification of emerging themes: the maintenance of personal-professional boundaries, notions of holistic care and professional definitions of community. These observations raise important questions regarding the extent to which the location of care and the taken-for-granted assumptions surrounding community-based nursing care have been translated into practice to date. This also raises key issues regarding the tensions which exist for nurses trying to balance notions of community and community-based care within the parameters of organisational and professional boundaries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Community Health Nursing / methods*
  • Community-Institutional Relations
  • Friends
  • Holistic Nursing / methods
  • Home Care Services / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Pilot Projects
  • Professional Practice Location
  • Qualitative Research
  • United Kingdom