District Veterinary Nursing – fringe event at BVNA Congress

District Veterinary Nursing (DVN) is a new movement which has been attracting a lot of attention over the last few months. The DVN Fringe event at BVNA Congress (3.30pm on Saturday 13th October) aims to showcase the role and future challenges through a series of short presentations including a number of case studies.

District Veterinary Nursing

District Veterinary Nursing (DVN) is a new movement which has been attracting a lot of attention over the last few months. Pioneered by Registered Veterinary Nurse Carla Finzel, 3 years ago, Carla has proven the need for extending comprehensive veterinary nursing care right in the heart of the community and into the patient’s own home. This role works entirely through veterinary referral and with a close working relationship between owner, their vet and the district veterinary nurse.

The District Veterinary Nurse Development Group

The District Veterinary Nurse Development Group, a group of volunteers from inside and outside of the veterinary profession, was formed earlier this year to support Carla to realise her vision of developing the role of the DVN at a national level, as extended outreach members of the veterinary team. While the Group’s work is in its infancy, they all share Carla’s powerful vision to bring veterinary nursing care to those who are unable to access the traditional veterinary practice setting for their pet’s ongoing care.

Removing barriers to veterinary care

There are many reasons why owners do not visit the vet – it may simply be that the pet is fearful or more complex situations where the owner is unable to give the veterinary care required due to their own health or disability. The role of the DVN helps to address the Equality Act 2010 by removing some of the barriers to veterinary care and treatment caused by physical, intellectual, communication, learning, sensory or mental health disability.

To quote two referring veterinary surgeons on their use of District Veterinary Nursing services:

‘… excellent service to help manage complex patients in their owners’ homes. It has been invaluable to aid our communication with owners who are often struggling to come to grips with on-going medication administration, giving injections at home, blood pressure monitoring in a calm environment, etc. This works very well with the practice: clearly communicating progress and our wishes to the owner.’

‘ … working in the community to enable and empower owners to care for their unwell pets at home is invaluable. We have had many cases where this has been instrumental in getting patients home from our hospital much sooner than would have been possible without assistance and support.”

The animals thrive in their home environment and the owners value the precious time with their companions, particularly if their pets are receiving palliative care.

“But, even more importantly, there is help for those who are physically not capable of dealing with an unwell pet: owners with dementia, elderly owners learning to give insulin to a diabetic patient, owners with disabilities and owners who are anxious about how to administer medications, injections and tube feeds. As vets, this is our eyes and ears in the community and our go to whenever someone needs a little help, guidance and a kind ear.”

The District Veterinary Nursing movement seems a trivial concept but has a huge impact on the wellbeing of owners and animals within our society. “

Distinct from the role of the ‘mobile vet nurse’

The role of the District Veterinary Nurse is far removed from the more familiar term of a mobile nurse. This role encompasses intensive care nursing, specialist clinics, palliative nursing care and owner coaching, support and mentoring – all under the direction of the referring vet.

The Fringe Event

The DVN BVNA Fringe event aims to showcase the role and future challenges through a series of short presentations including a number of case studies.

Speakers will explore:

  • ‘What is a District Veterinary Nurse’ | Carla Finzel RVN
  • ‘Developing the role of the District Veterinary Nurse’ | Debbie Gray RVN
  • ‘Supporting the Human-Animal Bond’ | Belinda Johnston MRCVS
  • ‘Professional considerations now and in the future’ | Jill Macdonald RVN

Delegates will be invited to discuss this emerging role through an informal forum at the end of the short presentations, led by Dot Creighton RVN.

The Group believes that District Veterinary Nursing is an important missing link between patient welfare and access to veterinary care. Arguably it is needed to help protect the animal owner bond, to challenge traditional veterinary practice centred provision, to grow new veterinary nursing skill sets, to form new career pathways and improve veterinary nurse retention.

This event is open to all congress delegates. Date: Saturday 13th October Time: 3.30pm

This article was produced by the District Veterinary Nurse Development Group