Queen’s Nurses engaging communities in Scotland

07 Jan 2022
Christine Hancock

Queen’s Nurses engaging communities in Scotland

C3 Collaborating for Health (C3) and the Queen’s Nursing Institute of Scotland (QNIS) are partnering to bring expert community nurses and C3’s team to work with residents of some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged communities.

The goals are twofold:

  • to help communities improve the healthiness of their environments, and
  • to help the Queen’s Nurses (QNs) better understand the health challenges faced in Scotland’s poorest areas.

Five Queen’s Nurses have been trained in CHESS™, the C3 community engagement approach, and will work with five challenged communities.


Integrating two programmes: health professionals and community engagement

This project is a unique take on our typical community engagement approach by melding together two of our biggest programme areas: our work with health professionals and our partnerships with local neighbourhoods. With other projects, our work with local neighbourhoods equips community members to evaluate the healthiness of their communities and implement action plans for change. Separately, we work with health professionals to improve their own health and that of their patients. Our QNIS partnership integrates the two approaches by bringing nurses out of the clinic and into the community. Witnessing firsthand the environmental barriers their patients face to making healthy decisions will forever shift how they approach health conversations with their patients.


Why bring nurses into communities?

Like the rest of the UK, Scotland’s obesity rates are worrying. C3’s work with communities has demonstrated that engaging community members – who are experts in their own needs – is the best way to break down the barriers to living a healthy and fulfilled life and generate sustainable change.

Through its Queen’s Nurse development programme, QNIS is growing a social movement of change makers in Scotland’s communities who are skilled in co-production. They are expert clinical nurses who understand the deep listening required to engage with people where they are.


What is CHESS?

Queen’s Nurses with C3’s Dr Denise Stevens, discussing how advertising, accessibility and affordability impact our food choices.


Five Queen’s Nurses have been selected by QNIS and are being supported to work for 2 years on the project, with C3’s oversight. In September 2021, Dr Denise Stevens, creator of CHESS was assisted by C3’s Founder, Christine Hancock, to introduce the QNs to the concept of an environment that is conducive to healthy lives. A 2-day masterclass included a walk around Leith to introduce them to the CHESS approach & the CHESS tool.

CHESS is an innovative, evidence-based approach that shifts decision-making to local communities by engaging them as ‘citizen scientists’ in an investigation about their health and the built environment (e.g., the shops, restaurants and parks in their neighbourhood). It includes a mobile tool that equips local communities in identifying and mapping the barriers they face every day when making choices about diet, activity and healthy living.

The 5 nurses agreed the 2 days had made a real impact:

  • It has taken my mind off of the so many negative parts of my work. 
  • It makes me look forward to doing something that will have an impact. 
  • I’ve found the last 2 days inspirational. 
  • I feel motivated to empower a local community to consider changes.


What happens next?

From this, the QNs will lead the project as it is important that the changes are developed and owned by local people, supported by, but not driven by, the QN. C3 will be available with virtual support throughout this. Each QN will identify community members to hear about the issues.  Each QN will run an information session for local residents, and will, with the local residents, undertake CHESS walks. C3 will analyse the data and provide a report for the QNs to run insight sessions & work with community members to develop action plans.  The QNs will support the community in implementing interventions over 2 years, using their local and professional knowledge.


What will the project achieve?

The outcomes will be 5 Scottish communities who better understand their health challenges and are implementing changes to make it easier to live healthy lives. The 5 QNs will have greater knowledge of the life challenges that affect the health of people in challenged communities, and how services and opportunities can be better tailored to their needs.


View our health professionals portfolio to learn about our other projects