Heywood Rural Health’s district nursing service is now “more important than ever”, with community members facing prolonged isolation due to current state-wide restrictions.
Although restrictions still permit health care and regional residents can travel as far as they wish, some people have become hesitant to visit their doctor or have been unsure whether their visits would be deemed essential.
Through Heywood Rural Health’s district nursing program, community members are able to access quality health care from the comfort of their own home, minimising the stress of travel and public interaction.
District nurse Kay Childs has almost two and a half decades of experience working as a district nurse in the region, taking on the role more than 24 years ago.
She said although it had been accessible to the community for at least three decades, the service had become more vital than ever.
“A lot of people don’t know there service is available to them”, she said.
“All they need to do is ask for a referral from their GP and we’re able to come out to them and help manage their treatments that way instead of having them travel to the clinic too often.
“With lockdown a lot of the older patients aren’t actually able to get to the clinic as they don’t have access to sufficient transport so having the ability to travel to them instead is invaluable.”
Ms Childs said as a district nurse she treats patients for all kinds of ailments including wound care, blood pressure checks and medication management.
Due to restrictions, Ms Childs said patients were also experiencing social isolation.
“We’ve had some patients become distressed over current restrictions which has been tough,” she said.
“They haven’t been able to get out and about in the community like they normally would and it’s especially difficult for those who have family living far away who can’t visit them at the moment.
“I think having us coming over for check ups boosts their spirits a bit.
“They definitely love having a chat and a catch up – mental health is just as important as physical health so we really want to make sure they’re coping well and if they aren’t we can give them the tools they need to seek further help.”
Joining the Heywood Rural Health team during the pandemic, district nurse Anna Ross said the role was vastly different to anything she had ever experienced.
Ms Ross previously worked at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital before a tree change led her to relocate to the South West with her partner.
“I graduated in 2017 so I’d been nursing about three years before I came to the South West,” she said.
“It’s very different to what it was like working in the city, but I love the variety.
“We go out into the community every day and see how other people live – it’s always something new.
“I’ve had a great teacher in Kaye and she’s really helped me settle into the role here.”
The duo work Monday to Friday, servicing Heywood, Tyrendarra, Narrawong and surrounds and can be booked through a GP referral.