An exploration of embedding the community matron role in three settings
: making the invisible visible?

  • Sue Randall

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Background: The role of community matron (CM) was introduced to provide a single point of access to patients living with co-morbid long-term conditions who had, or were at risk of, frequent emergency admissions to hospital. CMs utilised case management as a means of managing this growing population of patients with fragile health. Since its inception, many changes in service delivery have impacted on the role.

    Aim: The aim was to undertake a mixed methodology study of the factors that have affected embedding of the community matron role in 3 geographical areas.

    Methodology: A pragmatic mixed methods approach (QUAL quan) was utilised.

    Settings and participants: The studies were based in health services within 2 cities and a rural area in central England. Participants for the qualitative components of the study were purposefully sampled. The sample comprised professionals: community matrons (n=21), managers (n=4), former commissioners (n=2) and GPs (n=3); and patients (n=10) and their family carers (n=5). Quantitative data for 212 people with long-term conditions were derived from the anonymised Patients at Risk of Rehospitalisation database (PARR data) held by area 1.

    Methods: Qualitative data were collected from participants using semi-structured interviews and audio diaries. For the quantitative component using PARR, some patient journeys within area 1 were explored. In addition, a sample of patients who were case managed by a CM (n=106) were matched with a set of patients who were not (n=106) and the data was examined.

    Findings: Participants were largely positive about the role of CM. However, difficulties with role setup had led to numerous changes which affected how the role has embedded. Additionally, this impacted understanding of the role by health care professionals, and caused practical and emotional difficulties for some CMs as they perceived the role to be eroded. The quantitative findings showed that CMs did not make a significant difference to hospital bed days used by patients on their caseload. Evaluating the role and finding an effective means of showing the work undertaken by CMs, which is often invisible, proved difficult.

    Conclusion: Embedding of the CM role has been affected by numerous changes in service delivery. Invisibility of community nursing rather than autonomy of the community matron role seems to be a key factor in the challenges of embedding the role. The significance of these findings is that using a mixed method approach and Liaschenko and Fisher’s adapted model may help CMs to improve the visibility of their role, and so helping the role to be less prone to the challenges of service redesign.
    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorGill Furze (Supervisor), Guy Daly (Supervisor) & Colin Thunhurst (Supervisor)


    • community matrons
    • community-based care
    • long-term health conditions

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