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Fewer hospital admissions for palliative care patients under new nurse plan

Author: Petrina Vousden
12 April 2017

Palliative care patients will need fewer hospital admissions under Government plans to boost nursing care in the community

The role of the nurse in the community will be significantly enhanced under a new care model and policy being proposed by the Health Minister for consideration.

Under the plans up to 700 nurses will be educated and trained up to Masters’ Degree level over the next five years so they can take on advanced nursing posts in the community.

The proposals should lead to an increase in specialist nurses in areas like dementia, heart failure and lung disease such as COPD so more patients can be cared for in their own homes.

More nurses will be upskilled in areas like prescribing medication to increase their role in patient care.

The proposals are contained in draft nursing and midwifery policy documents launched for public consultation by Health Minister Simon Harris and Chief Nursing Officer Dr Siobhan O’Halloran.

Health Minister Simon Harris said as more people live longer and manage several conditions affecting their health, services are needed to support them as long as possible within their own homes and communities.

He said nurses are uniquely placed to work closely with patients and their carers during all stages of their lives.

In his foreword to the Consultation Document, Minister Harris said building the confidence of nurses and midwives to develop additional competencies – “as well as embracing new ways of working “ will ensure delivery of care in settings away from the hospital.

The Irish Hospice Foundation welcomed the new proposals.  IHF’s development officer and registered nurse Deirdre Shanagher said: “People are living longer with more illnesses and there is a requirement to deliver more comprehensive and flexible nursing care to people with chronic illnesses at home.

“We know that 90 per cent of care in the last year of a person’s life is delivered at home and most people in Ireland want to die at home. This policy and model of care will support the provision of this type of care, working towards a 24/7 care model.”

Dr Siobhan O’Halloran, Chief Nursing Officer said: “ A key aim of the draft policy is to ensure that all people in Ireland are able to access a community nursing and midwifery services that both promotes health and wellbeing and also provides appropriate care for those who require it.

“Our vision is to deliver within the community all nursing and midwifery care that does not need to be delivered in a hospital setting.. This integrated model of care will be based and managed within the community with referral pathways of care that transit seamlessly into a hospital setting to be used only when required.”

She said the availability of graduate, specialist and advanced practitioners in the appropriate location, at the appropriate time will improve patient flow, facilitate earlier discharge from hospitals, and facilitate appropriate access to the health services at the earliest possible time and as near to the patients home as possible.

The plan to boost the role of nurses in palliative care is contained in the Consultation Document; Developing a Community Nursing and Midwifery Response to an Integrated Model of Care. Submissions are being accepted until 28th April.

The new policy is contained in Developing a Policy Graduate, Specialist and Advanced Nursing Practice. Consultation Paper. Submissions are being accepted until 28th April.

Featured image: Pixabay

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