Embedding digital inclusion within Student Nurse Programme

100% Digital Leeds has partnered with Hayley Ingleson (Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust (LCH) and Leeds Primary Care Practice Learning Facilitator) to include a digital leadership strand within the new and innovative Leeds Primary Care Leadership Placement as part of the Queens Nursing Institute Community Innovation Programme 2022-2023. 

Aims and Objectives

The overall aim of the Student Leadership Placement is to expand sustainable high quality practice learning opportunities across primary care for pre-registration Adult Nursing learners. There is a focus on expanding knowledge and demonstrating leadership skills through three fundamental aspects of community healthcare throughout the 12 week placement:

  1. Public Health/health needs/health inequalities
  2. Preventative healthcare
  3. Digital health

In the first ‘structured learning week’ of the placement 100% Digital Leeds delivered an interactive training package to the four student nurses. The session provided them with:

  • greater insight and understanding of digital inclusion and exclusion
  • tools that they could use to explore barriers and challenges, such as motivational interviewing and coaching techniques
  • resources to support them to signpost service users who identify they would like help to become more digitally included to existing support.

“One conversation we had with a patient, the lady reported that she did not have access to the internet. Therefore, we informed her that the local library offers free wifi, and this would enable her to use her phone to access the GP Practice website and other tools to help her wellbeing and do things she enjoys.”

Student nurse

For the remaining 11 weeks of the placement the students led on three NHS Health Check Clinics per week in the general practice setting within the LS25/26 PCN and spent time each Tuesday in a community setting (either Garforth Net or MHA Communities Rothwell and District). Here they had the opportunity to build relationships with a diverse population group and enable them to have meaningful conversations about digital health. They took a person-centred approach and raised awareness of ways in which people could use digital tools to manage their health and wellbeing and engage with health services. They also had positive conversations about digital, promoted the benefits that digital tools could bring, and signposted to support. 

“As well as supporting patients to know about what apps and tools could help them with their health and wellbeing and how to use these, we have also been able to signpost patients to other organisations such as Age UK Leeds and Carers Leeds who run digital inclusion sessions for people who need further support with digital health and even things like online shopping.”

Student nurses


The students have embedded digital inclusion into their placements and used their new knowledge and skills to support people to order prescriptions online and to access health and wellbeing websites and apps including One You Leeds, Active Leeds, and Mindwell.

It has been a successful partnership with third sector organisations Garforth Net and MHA Communities Rothwell and District, and this has enabled the students’ conversations with people to happen in an informal, holistic way.  The students built trusted relationships with service users which helped them to have impactful digital inclusion conversations. They really understood the digital inclusion barriers people faced and helped them to overcome those.

“We found starting with an informal conversation with the patient naturally follows on with a conversation about what information patients can access through digital health. It also gives us the opportunity to see what devices people have. For example, we found that typically elderly patients do have smart phones, however they mainly use their phones for texting and taking photos. Having face to face appointments means we have been able to demonstrate and teach them how to use the apps relevant to them, making it accessible for all.  We’ve utilised the free wifi in the community locations and showed patients how to make the most of this.”

Student nurse

Many people they engaged with weren’t aware of the digital tools available to them to support their health and wellbeing and had a lack of confidence around digital. The students showed people the tools and increased their confidence and skills by demonstrating the benefits of digital. 

“When we first started our health check clinics in the community, we spoke to a patient about how they can see their health record. This patient wasn’t aware this was even possible, which prompted the question of how and on which platform they’d do this.  We informed them of the NHS app and Patient Access, and talked them through how they set this up. The patient was incredibly thankful and said it would really help them order their prescriptions on the app and make appointments in an easier way.  Since then, we encouraged this in all conversations we had, and with some we were able to direct them to online services and apps such as NHS smoke free and self-management apps that were personally relevant to them.” 

Student nurse


The Leeds Primary Care Student Leadership Placement Pilot is due to finish on 27 January 2023 and will be fully evaluated and written up for the British Journal of Community Nursing. The students said they thoroughly enjoyed developing their own skills to deliver digital inclusion and will continue to promote digital health throughout their career, assisting those who need it, ensuring everyone who has the ability and wants to access it can. 

Following on from the success of this pilot programme plans are underway, working with Primary Care and LCH teams, to roll this programme out in further Primary Care Networks later this year.

“The programme of specialist support and expertise provided by 100% Digital Leeds throughout the development and implementation of the pilot has been incredible and we look forward to working with the team going forward.”

Hayley Ingleson, Practice Learning Facilitator

Thanks to Student nurses, Hayley, Erin, Megan, Weronika and Sophie.