The heads of Parkinson’s NSW brought good news on their visit to Mudgee, the organisation has been advocating for more specialist nurses in rural and regional NSW.
When Orange gets their new dedicated Parkinson’s Disease nurse the position will be expanded to become a Central West regional role. Parkinson’s NSW has taken inspiration from the McGrath Foundation breast care nurse model.
“We’ve just done a big project with Charles Sturt University to validate the role of a Parkinson’s nurse and it’s come out that there’s a big need,” CEO Jo-Anne Reeves said.
“We’ve had a 13 hours per week nurse in Orange for some time and we’re extending that to 28 hours per week, and that will cover Mudgee, Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo. We will be recruiting for that position shortly to really cater for people out here in the future.
“The role of the nurse is to refer people to the appropriate allied health like exercise, physios, and speech pathologists.”
President David Veness added that the availability of specialist nurses “will give people living with Parkinson’s a better quality of life and it will also save the health system quite a substantial amount of money”.
“At the moment we’re relying on people in support groups to support each other,” he said. “There’s not many neurologists in country areas and if you have a local one you can’t readily get access to them, they’re like any other specialist you’ve got to book ahead. So the nurse can fill in some of those gaps.”
The pair met with the Mid-Western Parkinson’s Support Group on Wednesday. There are 75 support groups across NSW with the majority [around two thirds] in country areas.
Mr Veness said the distance from specialist healthcare is what makes the role of support groups so vital.
“Support groups are important to us, without them they’d be no need for us to exist. What they do is look after people living with Parkinson’s in their communities, and keep in contact with us,” he said. “We believe there is a higher incidence of Parkinson’s in rural areas, but there’s not the same access to healthcare. As an example, I have a friend living near Coonamble who has to go to Brisbane for a neurologist and has to access other services through Sydney. It makes life more difficult.”
Mid-Western Parkinson’s Support Group meet every second month, on the second Wednesday from 2pm at Club Mudgee. Contact June Ritar on 6374 2846.