Public health nurses
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.
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
- 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.
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.