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Nurse Navigators bridge care gap for patients with disability

19 August 2020

Metro South Health’s Nurse Navigator service is paving the way to better health for patients with disability who are admitted to hospital.

QEII Nurse Navigator Vikki Tomlinson said her goal was giving patients the opportunity to lead healthy, socially connected lives in the community.

"We are trying to build capacity within them, their families and support networks to keep them well in the community, so the support we offer is by its nature high intensity and patient specific,” Ms Tomlinson said, citing the example of a middle-aged man with an intellectual disability who had lived at home with his parents his whole life.

“When the patient’s primary carers passed away, he found himself struggling to cope with the basics of life, unable to prepare a meal or shower properly by himself. He eventually came into hospital severely malnourished and with infected wounds on his feet. He required many months of rehabilitation and support to gain access to the NDIS before he could be discharged.”

Ms Tomlinson said that without a Nurse Navigator to guide him step by step through implementing his NDIS plan and managing his ongoing health care needs once back in the community, the patient would likely have ended up back in hospital and eventually in a nursing home.

“I am happy to say he is now living with support in the community in a house with a flatmate, attending his local club for lunch once a week, and making new friends,” she said.

Ms Tomlinson said there was strong demand for Nurse Navigators within the health service.

“One in five people identify as having a disability in Metro South Health and many would really benefit from nurse navigation support. It is a massive area of need for people who find it difficult to understand and navigate through the complex health and disability sectors simultaneously. We help bring these together so people with disability can access the right kind of healthcare, at the right time, in the most appropriate way.”

Ms Tomlinson said achieving positive outcomes for her patients was the most rewarding part of her role in healthcare.

“Many people with disability need a lot of support to get access to the care they need, to be able to communicate what they need and get the same opportunities for healthcare. I enjoy being able to help those people on their journey through hospital and beyond,” she said.

To access Metro South Health’s Nurse Navigator Disability service visit: www.metrosouth.health.qld.gov.au/referrals/nurse-navigators

Last updated 21 August 2020
Last reviewed 19 August 2020

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