Government reforms have guided a shift of patients care into homes and primary care settings (Department of Health 2009). As healthcare moves away from hospital into the community there is a need to ensure that nursing students gain a range of experiences in the community at the point of registration. In his review of pre-registration nursing education Willis (2012) recommended that more needs to be expected from graduate nurses of the future to meet a population based and integrated community approach. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (2010) standards for pre-registration nurse education signalled a shift of focus from acute to primary care. This has resulted in increased emphasis on community and primary care in the nursing curriculum as well as a desire to increase the number of community based placements.
A consistent challenge for Higher Education Institutions (HEI) is to find sufficient community based placement experience for children’s nursing students. Traditionally most of nursing students’ clinical experience is gained in the acute setting. The results of one study found that the maximum time students spend in a community placement is four to six weeks and less from other universities (Betony 2012). This is unlikely to prepare nursing students to practice in the primary care setting at the point of registration or later in their career. The availability of placements is also constrained by the capacity of National Health Service (NHS) Trust to provide mentorship for students. Other challenges in community placements include a lack of clarity about what constitute a community placement (Temple 2013).
Health Education England North West London (HEE NWL) vision is to ensure that workforce planning training and education drive sustainable innovations to deliver a capable and flexible workforce now and in the future to serve the population of North West London. The vision is also to support the development of students to enable them to embrace change in health care delivery and support community care workforce development and expansion of community care for all service providers. To achieve this mandate HEE NWL funded a project to support the development of children’s nursing placement capacity in Central London Community Health Care NHS Trust (CLCH) in collaboration with London South Bank University (LSBU) in challenging areas.