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Public health nurses

Introduction

Public health nurses are employed by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to provide a range of health care services in the community. They are usually based in your local health centre and are assigned to cover specific geographical areas. They provide services in schools, in health centres, in day care and other community centres and in people's homes.

Public health nursing teams provide basic nursing care as well as advice and assistance to their patients. Public health nurses also act as an important point of access for other community care services.

Public health nurses and community registered general nurses liaise with family doctors (GPs), practice nurses, hospitals, hospices and other health service providers to ensure that the needs of the patient are met by the overall health service.

Public health nurses visit new-born infants and their mothers in their homes within 6 weeks of the birth. They are also involved in the arrangement of school health services. In some areas, public health nurses keep a register of older people and visit them as a matter of course. Sometimes, the same service is also provided for people with disabilities.

Rules

The main groups of people to whom public health nurses and their teams provide services are:

  • Older people who live at home
  • People who are chronically or acutely ill at home and people who are dying at home
  • Children – infant welfare services, child health services and school health services
  • Expectant mothers and mothers who have recently given birth
  • People with disabilities
  • People suffering social deprivation
  • Travellers
  • Those who have contracted Hepatitis C directly or indirectly from the use of Human Immunoglobulin-Anti-D or from the receipt within Ireland of any blood product or a blood transfusion and who hold a Health Amendment Act Card

Local Health Offices may employ Health Care Assistants to assist the public health nursing service. Care assistants provide personal care rather than domestic services but there is some overlap between what they do and what home helps do.

Palliative care

Access to public health palliative care nursing is via your GP or medical consultant. Some voluntary organisations, notably the Irish Cancer Society, provide nursing services to complement or as an alternative to the public health nursing service. Palliative nursing is provided in some areas by hospice nursing teams. You can read more about palliative care here.

Where to apply

You may be referred to your local public health nurse by your GP, or you may contact the service yourself through your local health centre or through your Local Health Office.

Page edited: 12 May 2015

Language

Gaeilge

Related Documents

  • Palliative care
    Palliative care aims to provide the best quality of life possible for patient and family when there is no medical expectation of a cure.
  • Cancer services
    Health services and supports available to people who are living with cancer.
  • Maternity and infant care services
    The public health service provides free maternity services for all expectant mothers for the period of the pregnancy and for 6 weeks after the birth.

Contact Us

If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.