The Western Australian model of Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist, established in 1998 with funding from the Department of Health to provide one nurse for a trial one year period within the Perth metropolitan area, has since grown to a team of eight Nurse Specialists which supports the Parkinson’s community in the metropolitan area and in the South West of WA.
Providing expert current advice and support to both the person living with the condition and their carers/partners, the community-based service provides home visits where the full impact of the condition is experienced. Visits to residential aged care facilities are also carried out as necessary.
Parkinson’s WA says the service promotes “awareness and effective management of symptoms, provides a constant point of contact for the long term and aims to reduce inappropriate hospital admission”.
Parkinson’s WA Chief Executive Officer Brenda Matthews says the service offers a number of benefits for those living with the common progressive neurological condition which has the potential to affect all aspects of daily life.
“Parkinson’s is the second most common progressive neurological condition (after dementia) and although the cause remains a mystery and a cure remains elusive, support and information are essential,” she explains.
“The Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist Service provides education to all health professionals in best practice management.
“The service has made a tremendous difference to thousands of people throughout WA and we are genuinely delighted that, 20 years on, we are now able to celebrate the eight community nurses who make up the Parkinson’s WA nursing team.”
Nurse Specialist Service client Gary is just one of the more than 20,000 Western Australians affected by Parkinson’s represented by the peak body and a not-for-profit organisation.
“The Parkinson’s Nurse is very thorough, chats to me like a friend and makes sure my wife and I are doing OK,” Gary says.
“It’s very comforting to know that she takes care of both of us.”
Ms Matthews says the Nurses Specialist Service is available via an open referral system, with the only criteria being a medical diagnosis of Parkinson’s or one of the rarer Atypical Parkinsonism conditions: Multiple System Atrophy, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy or Cortico Basal Degeneration.
“Self-referral to the service or with your permission a family member may be necessary to make the initial contact, with general practitioners, medical specialists or a treating health professional may also refer to the service,” she explains.
“The free call number 1800 644 189 will connect with Parkinson’s WA and the relevant Nurse will then follow up to arrange a visit.”