A six-year push for a specialist neurological nurse to support people with Parkinson’s disease and their carers has paid off.
A neurological nurse will be appointed in the Port Macquarie area, a joint announcement by Parkinson’s NSW president David Veness and Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams has confirmed.
The position is funded by the Mid North Coast Local Health District in partnership with Parkinson’s NSW at a cost of $450,000 over three years.
Parkinson’s NSW president David Veness said the position would mean more immediate access to advice.
“The sooner you get onto an issue with an individual the less likely they are to deteriorate and there’s a significant saving to the government through less bed days in hospital,” he said.
Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams said the impact of having a neurological nurse on the ground was clear, not only for people with Parkinson’s but their carers.
The benefits include managing people’s symptoms and reduced hospital stays.
Carers also experience improved wellbeing.
“I think having a neurological nurse on the ground, being able to work directly with patients and carers, is just going to be such a positive thing for our community,” Mrs Williams said.
A neurological nurse plays a key role in meeting the general needs of people living with Parkinson’s by liaising between patients and specialists, educating aged care facilities and health care professionals, and administering advanced nursing practices.
They also provide support during hospitalisation and help with referrals to complementary therapies.
The push for a neurological nurse started with the Port Macquarie Parkinson’s Support Group and grew from there.
Port Macquarie Parkinson’s Support Group president and carer Peter Fienieg said the nurse would support both the person with Parkinson’s and their carer.
“It’s a godsend for people that are newly diagnosed,” he said.
He said the nurse would provide knowledge and support.
Mr Fienieg said they were very grateful and privileged to be early receivers of a Parkinson’s nurse.
Gregg and Sue Faulker also recognise the value of a neurological nurse.
The couple is making the most of life seven years after Mr Faulker’s Parkinson’s diagnosis.
Mr Faulkner said Parkinson’s had a simple cause but its ramifications were complicated and different from one person to the next.
He said the specialist nurse would understand that complexity.
Mrs Faulker said: “For me, the neurological nurse will be a great benefit to have a finger on the pulse of the medical community in the region and to also have a role to play in educating GPs and support Parkinson’s NSW who can’t always be here with us.
“To have a presence like this in our region is really a huge bonus.”
The Mid North Coast Local Health District will become the only rural health district in the state with two neurological nurses.
There has been a neurological nurse at Coffs Harbour for at least two years.
Mid North Coast Local Health District chief executive Stewart Dowrick said it was all about partnerships and providing better support for people with Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s NSW estimates 80,000 Australians are living with the disease.
Other estimates put the figure as high as 110,000.
Parkinson’s is a movement and mood disorder typically presenting with symptoms such as slowness of movement, muscle rigidity, instability, tremor, depression and anxiety.