Local nursing support

This page explains the services that are based locally in the community rather than in hospital.

Many people live a long way from their local hospital, so it is important to be aware of local services that can support you.

Community health services

If you are being cared for at home, you will probably want to access community health services at some stage. For example, you might need help from a community nurse at home. These services support families as well as people who are ill, so make sure you ask for support if you need it. They may also provide access to practical support, such as equipment.

It can sometimes take time to organise care and support at home, so try to find out what is available in your area before you need it. Your GP can help you with this.

What happens when someone leaves hospital?

Before someone leaves hospital, they should be given information about any care they might be offered at home. This may be called a care package. The support offered will depend on how unwell the person is and the support they have from their family.

It’s a good idea to ask about this support well before you leave hospital. The nurse in charge of the ward may be able to arrange it. You will normally have an assessment by a community nurse or an occupational therapist at the hospital. The GP should also be aware of the care package. If your needs change while you are at home, you can ask for another assessment.

Nurses in the community

If you need nursing support at home, this is most likely to come from the community nursing service. Your GP or main contact at the hospital should be able to refer you to a community nurse.

Nurses will normally visit during the day, but there will be a team available in the evenings. In most areas, nurses will also be available at night, so it should be a 24-hour service. Ask the GP or the nursing team about how to get help during the night.

Depending on how services are organised where you live, nursing support may be given by different nurses who provide different types of care.

  • District nurses give nursing care and work closely with GPs and other services to coordinate care.
  • Specialist nurses (palliative care nurses, hospice nurses or Macmillan nurses) work alongside the district nurses to help people manage their symptoms, and give practical support.

Specialist nurses in the community are different to the clinical nurse specialist who you may have seen at the hospital. The clinical nurse specialist will be able to help with questions about treatment or side effects, but won’t visit you at home. If you don’t know who to contact about your care, ask your GP or main contact at the hospital.

Marie Curie nurses have a different role. They provide nursing care at home for people who are nearing the end of their lives. For example, they may come in overnight so that a carer can get some sleep. The GP or district nurse can put you in touch with a Marie Curie nurse.

Updated September 2019

Review date September 2021