Aged care in Portland and Heywood has received a significant boost with the appointment of an endorsed nurse practitioner and a nurse practitioner candidate.
Endorsed nurse practitioner Kam Benton and training candidate Carla Reodique are working with Portland District Health’s Harbourside Lodge and Heywood Rural Health.
A nurse practitioner is an advance practice nurse authorised under Medicare to order diagnostics, refer to specialists and prescribe certain restricted medicine.
They also undertake advanced clinical assessments for deteriorating residents, order diagnostics, develop and implement treatment plans including prescribing medications, in collaboration with treating GPs to prevent unnecessary hospital transfers when safe to do so.
PDH nursing director Ros Nagorcka said that to be endorsed as a nurse practitioner, nurses had to undergo Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency accredited master studies and provide evidence of 35,000 hours of advanced practice.
“When our GPs are busy, nurse practitioners are able to collaborate with treating GPs to provide seamless high level medical care to support the residents and nursing staff in their own home,” Ms Nagorcka said.
“It’s going to help GPs and our aged care residents and staff.”
The new nurses say they are passionate about their careers and want to make a difference especially in aged care.
Ms Benton has been an endorsed nurse practitioner since 2015 after completing her Masters with the University of Melbourne. She also has a Masters in Public Health.
Born in Hong Kong, Ms Benton completed her nursing training in the United Kingdom where she lived for 11 years before moving to Australia 30 years ago.
She has since worked in UK, Hong Kong and Australia a variety of settings.
The latter part of Ms Benton’s career has been community health and rural health, in the last 10 years focusing on aged care.
Prior to joining the team at Portland and Heywood, Ms Benton worked in Sydney and in Central Coast Tasmania (between Burnie and Devonport).
“There are problems with recruiting GPs, especially in rural areas, and I think the nurse practitioner role in aged care will make a big difference in the quality of life of the residents,” she said.
“It’s the pinnacle of the career in nursing. We’re passionate about making a difference in aged care.”
“We are advanced practice clinicians bring our unique experience from a nursing perspective.”
Ms Reodique is a nurse practitioner candidate completing her Masters through La robe University, She has previously completed a Masters in Clinical Nursing.
“Nurse practitioners can contribute more and doing this will help to advance my career and it will help Portland and Heywood community to continue to provide the best possible aged care services,” she said.
She will work at both Harbourside Lodge and HRH for six-month rotations, while Ms Benton is shifting between both facilities.
Originally from the Philippines where she worked as a nurse in a medical and surgical hospital, Ms Reodique moved to Australia in 2013.
After completing a bridging course, she worked for West Wimmera Health at Nhill, in aged care at Ararat and Royal Melbourne Hospital.
She already has links to Portland with her fiancé who grew up in the town.
“I’ve been working in different aged care settings and have seen the need for extra support,” Ms Reodique said.
“We’re passionate nurses who want to make a difference.”