District Veterinary Nursing

We talk to Carla Finzel, RVN

District Veterinary Nursing makes veterinary nursing care accessible to Pet Owners and their beloved animal companions, helping Vets comply with the Equality Act 2010 and as such the Vets patients’ welfare is optimised and humananimal bonds are protected.

Alfie is Bryan’s lifeline and Bryan wishes to raise awareness of the crucial need there is in the veterinary industry and nursing profession for the district veterinary nursing role.

Carla and Roxy

Alfie’s owner with disabilities sought help from Streetvet on the street in Brighton as he could not access the PDSA, though eligible.

“For many pet owners with disabilities, non-visible and visible, normal veterinary practice settings can be challenging. Some communication skills and the ongoing support of their beloved animal companion needs, like Alfie, is none existent and many pet owners lose their best friends and in some cases their only family because of this cliff edge in the veterinary profession and the lack of inclusivity to them as service users.” Carla Finzel RVN, founder of the district veterinary nursing role says.

“As Bryan was eligible for the PDSA, we were able to contact them but there was a huge roadblock, his disabilities, making access to PDSA veterinary care for Alfie tricky. As I am a StreetVet nurse volunteer my boss vet Jade Statt, co-founder of charity StreetVet, knew all about the District Veterinary Nursing service I founded back in 2015 and referred Bryan and Alfie to me after Alfie had been attacked by another dog and sustained a very bad bite wound to his already very arthritic shoulder.

It was a very distressing time for Bryan, who struggled to communicate what had happened, so I acted as his agent and guardian of Alfie so that the vets and nurses at the PDSA could assist them. Alfie had an operation at the PDSA and was discharged in my care. I nursed him in his home so that Bryan who relies on Alfie as his lifeline and Alfie who adores Bryan could be together.”

Sometimes people who are desperate for support have the potential to fall through the cracks. StreetVet was created to provide those with pets of no fixed abode with free veterinary care. Other charities exist to support those on low income and in receipt of benefits, but what about the invisibly vulnerable? People like Alfie’s owner Bryan, where mobility and communication are a concern, their needs are complex. This is where the role of a DVN is in my opinion invaluable, to help bridge the gap and make sure pets like Alfie can access the care they deserve.

Jade Statt co-founder StreetVet

There are many circumstances where pet owners face a very tough economical time, like the loss of a job as we are seeing a lot of due to Covid-19. Disability allowance is so low that even the cost of pet insurance is now something many cannot afford.

If their pet becomes unwell we have to be able to get patients well far more quickly and affordably but in the same instance, we shouldn’t then leave them unattended once they leave the veterinary practice. We should not judge clients for not having pet insurance when we don’t know their personal circumstances. We have a moral responsibility and professional duty to support them.

Roxy’s owner did not have pet insurance, which meant Roxy faced euthanasia due to veterinary treatment costs: “This time last week, I thought I was going to have to have my little cat, Roxy, put to sleep. She had been missing for 3 days but then reappeared with a nasty wound and terrible infection.”

Roxy had an operation and came out of hospital the next day, however, the owner was told she would need her wound dressing changed every day at the vets and that she has a very long and expensive journey ahead.

“I felt my only option was to have her put to sleep for her wellbeing and because I could not afford £45 a day in vet fees for I don’t know how long. I wasn’t eligible for help and she isn’t insured. When the day arrived I just couldn’t do it and asked my vet for any other options.

“My vet referred me to Carla who phoned me that evening and reassured me that she would help me as much as humanly possible to get Roxy well again. Carla has shown me what to do and taken many pictures that we can use as daily comparisons to check her progress. Carla is happy to come in each day and help me as she could see I would not be able to do it on my own. Carla is so patient, friendly, caring and reassuring. I am so grateful to her and to my vets for doing everything to try and help me find an affordable way to help Roxy. Nothing is ever too much trouble for Carla. I feel blessed to have her come into our lives. Roxy would have been put to sleep if it wasn’t for this service.”

So much has happened since September 2019 when we last interviewed Carla. She has managed in this time to secure and protect the title of District Veterinary Nurse. This means that only qualified and registered veterinary nurses can use this title.

Carla has also created the Veterinary District Professionals Association (which she has co-funded with the member of the District Veterinary Nurse Development Group, a team of human health care professionals, vets and veterinary nurses). VDPA will hold the register of RVNs who have completed further training to become veterinary district nurses.

“I am extremely honoured that so many RVNs have written in to apply to become DVNs. These super talented, compassionate, and passionate veterinary nurses who want to protect human-animal bonds with their skill sets is just wonderful. Nothing compares to the feeling when you are that fundamental instrument in saving an animals life simply by administering the treatment plan the veterinary surgeon has prescribed but the pet owner, for whatever reason, is not able to carry out.”

Veterinary nurses have trained for four long and arduous academic years, yet pet owners are expected to understand and implement some very challenging techniques in 15mins in a consult room and then implement at home.

The Veterinary District Professionals Association has been approached by human health organisations as well as veterinary practices who want to become a part of the movement and provide each other with the right support to navigate daily life, for one health and one welfare.

Therefore it is very important that as the Association where these Organisations, Pet Owners, Veterinary Practices and Veterinary District Nurses come together to ensure provision of animal welfare and human wellbeing via the Associations compassionate ethos, vision and five aims:

  1. That all owners and patients are offered district veterinary nursing support as part of a prescribed treatment plan, when discharged from any veterinary premises.
  2. That all animals receive their veterinary treatment when the owner’s situation or the patient’s health may prevent this from being delivered by the owner.
  3. Without judgement and accessible to all, a District Registered Veterinary Nurse “should be a vision of the NOW” readily offered by vets no matter what the circumstances, to help support the veterinary profession in delivering the five freedoms and One Health One Welfare.
  4. That District Registered Veterinary Nurses form part of social prescribing and contribute to the veterinary professions compliance with the Equality Act 2010.
  5. That Registered Veterinary Nurses have a clear route for career progression and an alternative career path in different aspects of the community, with the opportunity to develop and utilise additional transferable skills.

For further info
District Veterinary Nurse Community.
[email protected]