New guidelines have been published to support the development and implementation of community matrons and case managers. Lucy Dennis explains

Taking the form of an assurance framework, the guidelines were produced by NHS East of England in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University, Open University, Essex University and Leeds University, which were commissioned by the Department of Health.

The assurance framework has been designed to develop community matrons and case managers in the workforce, to assist them in developing competencies needed to carry out their roles.

The guidance will be of particular value to community matrons who, as nurses, are required to meet the regulatory requirements of the Nursing and Midwifery Council. It will also be of value tocase managerswho wish to use the framework to support the process of assuring their fitness to practise.

The assurance framework builds and complements the case-management competencies framework for the care of people with long-term conditions and caring for people with long-term conditions: an education framework for community matrons and case managers.

At the heart of assuring fitness to practise is using evidence from practical experience to generate case studies. These demonstrate that the competencies set out in the case management competency framework have been met. The assurance framework supports Agenda for Change as the competencies have all been mapped against the knowledge and skills framework, which draws evidence to underpin personal development.

A community matron from South West Essex primary care trust said: 'The fitness to practise assurance framework together with the competence framework provide invaluable tools for organisations to develop and monitor the relatively new roles of case manager and community matrons.

'Clarification of the competencies and a process to assure development in achieving those competencies are welcome as a means of authentication and validation of these new and exciting roles.'

The tools available on the CD are targeted towards managers, mentors and community matrons and case managers as they move through the seven stages of implementation and review:

  • pre-employment;

  • recruitment and selection;

  • preparation;

  • first progress review;

  • foundation gateway review;

  • second progress review;

  • second gateway review.

At each stage, tasks are identified to support people to move through the implementation and review cycle and ultimately assure fitness to practise. The tools available on the CD include a checklist of questions to use during the recruitment selection process, tools to identify and map the current level of competence, case studies from mentors, managers and community matrons' perspectives, along with other useful resources.

Using the knowledge and skills framework, expertise from the higher education community, requirements of registering bodies, good practice drawn from primary care, self-regulation and continual professional development, the assurance framework supports people in achieving mastery of practice (competent to practise at masters level) through a series of practical tools in an accompanying CD.

'We all considered that it was very useful and the community matrons are looking forward to trying to use it,' said a service manager fromGreenwich teaching PCT. 'We particularly liked the use of case studies, which can be used as evidence of competencies. The tools and frameworks will undoubtedly enable managers, mentors, community matrons and case managers to support the development of each individual clinician right from their first decision about whether to embark on the role and continue to support those who are more established.'

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