Local nursing support

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

If you need nursing support at home, this is most likely to come from the community nursing service. Ask the GP or nursing team who to contact if you need help in the evenings, at night or over the weekend.

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.

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

What happens when someone leaves hospital?

Before someone leaves hospital, their medical team should give them advice about the care they may need at home. The medical team will write to your GP, and they should also let you know who to contact if you have any concerns or need more support. This may be called a care package.

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, 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 nurses in the community. The community nurse will normally do an assessment. They will then make further visits depending on what support you need.

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 you see at the hospital. The clinical nurse specialist will be able to help with treatment or side effects, but won’t visit you at home.

If you are having palliative care at home, the main contact will be the district nurse or palliative care nurse, rather than the clinical nurse specialist. 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. Other organisations might also provide this service – for example, Sue Ryder, the local hospice or private companies.

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“During the last weeks of mum’s life we had Marie Curie come out and night sit with mum, so me and dad could sleep. This took the pressure off us.”

Speak to a nurse

Our specialist nurses on our Support Line can explain how to get support at home.

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Updated October 2021

Review date February 2024