Family Nursing in the UK and Ireland: The UK&I Chapter of the International Family Nursing Association

Authors (on behalf of the UK and Ireland IFNA Chapter): Professor Veronica Swallow @SwallowVeronica and Professor Veronica Lambert @VLambertDCU

Supporting people with health care needs is a key priority for nurses and midwives in the UK and Ireland. Family‐focused care interventions have the potential to improve the health and well‐being of individuals and families at times of need including during the current Covid-19 pandemic1.2 3 4 5 6 .

In 2017, the UK and Ireland Chapter of the International Family Nursing Association (IFNA) was formed by a group of nurses and midwives who actively support and advocate for families across the life-course, from the beginning to the end of life. Because families are units of interdependent individuals, changes in one family member can affect others in that family unit.10 11 Therefore, nurses and midwives play a major role in supporting families and family members in their work. Partnering together with families, to the extent patients desire, is critical to advancing healthcare reform and to promoting family health and wellness. A strong emphasis is needed on engaging with diverse family needs and building family strengths. Continuous professional development is required to support nurses, in all healthcare, community and societal settings, to adopt a partnership model of working with families and understand family functioning knowledge and family systems approaches to care.

With a growing membership of qualified and student nurses and midwives, and through our various Chapter activities, we sustain a discourse around approaches to family nursing that are relevant in the UK and Ireland. Launched in November 2020, our website IFNA UK and Ireland :

  • Brings together a set of resources that can help facilitate positive attitudes towards family nursing;
  • Promotes and disseminates family nursing through regular family nursing focused newsletters, blogs, twitter chats and webinars;
  • Shares evidence-based family-nursing research, practice, education and policy resources to a wide audience of family members, nurses, other healthcare professionals and family focused researchers.

Through working with nurses and families in the UK and Ireland to promote our common goals, the Chapter:

  • Fosters and promotes family-focused nursing across the life course in the UK and Ireland;
  • Acts as a unifying force and voice for family-focused nursing, midwifery and health visiting/public health nursing;
  • Enables UK and Irish nurses to recognise the family unit as a legitimate recipient of nursing care, and work in partnership with families;
  • Learns from family nurses in other global regions.

Chapter membership is free of charge and we link closely with the wider International Family Nursing Association. In June 2021 we are hosting the virtual 15th IFNA conference where around 350 nurses and midwives from 36 countries will engage with interdisciplinary colleagues, and families from around the globe in exploring and discussing family nursing across the life course. Our conference will address family nursing from the perinatal period to childhood and young adulthood, through adulthood to older adulthood, and at end-of-life and during times of bereavement at any life course period and include technological advancements. By bringing learning from international best practice the conference will provide networking opportunities for early career researchers, recent nurse graduates, doctoral students and clinical nurse practitioners with a remit for evidence-based practice. This will lead to new and strengthen existing national and international collaborations among families, researchers, educators and clinicians to promote the capacity and capability of family nurses as advocates for optimal family health and well-being throughout the life course in the UK and Ireland. You can register for IFNC15 here IFNA Conference Registration


  1. Smith, J., Ali, P., Birks, Y., Curtis, P., Fairbrother, H., Kirk, S., . . . Swallow, V. (2020). ‘Umbrella’ review of family-focused care interventions supporting families where a family member has a long-term condition. Journal of Advanced Nursing. doi:1111/jan.14367
  2. Jo, M., Song, M.K., Knafl, G.J., Beeber, L., Yoo, Y.S. and Van Riper, M., 2019. Family-clinician communication in the ICU and its relationship to psychological distress of family members: A cross-sectional study. International journal of nursing studies95, pp.34-39..
  3. Risling, T., Risling, D. and Holtslander, L., 2017. Creating a social media assessment tool for family nursing. Journal of family nursing23(1), pp.13-33.
  4. International Family Nursing Association. (2015). IFNA Position Statement on Generalist Competencies for Family Nursing Practice. ifna-position-statement-on-generalist-competencies-forfamily-nursing-practice/
  5. International Family Nursing Association. (2017). IFNA Position Statement on Advanced Practice Competencies for Family Nursing. 2017/05/19/advanced-practice-competencies/
  6. Lutik MLA al, FAMily health in Europe-Research in Nursing (FAME-RN) group. Guest Editorial The Covid-19 Pandemic: A Family Affair Journal of Family Nursing Volume 26, Issue 2, May 2020, Pages 87-89
  7. Parkinson, M., Carr, S., Rushmer, R. & Abley, C. (2016). Investigating what works to support family carers of people with dementia: A rapid realist review. Journal of Public Health39(4):e290-e301
  8. Metcalfe, A.(2018). Sharing Genetic Risk Information: Implications for family nurses across the life span. Journal of Family Nursing 24 (1): 86-105.
  9. Neill, S.J. (2010). Containing acute childhood illness within family life: A substantive grounded theory. Journal of Child Health Care 14(4): 327-344.
  10. Benson, A., O’Toole, S., Lambert, V., Gallagher, P., Shahwan, A., Austin, J. (2016) The stigma experiences and perceptions of families living with epilepsy: Implications for epilepsy-related communication within and external to the family unit. Patient Education and Counseling 99(9): 1473-81.
  11. O’Toole, S., Gallagher, P., Benson, A., Shahwan, A., Austin, JK., Lambert, V. (2019) Exploring the relationship between parent-child communication about epilepsy and psychosocial wellbeing. Journal of Health Psychology


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