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The views and opinions expressed in our blog series are those of the authors and are not necessarily supported by CareSearch, Flinders University and/or the Australian Government Department of Health.
About a third of Australian nurses work in rural and remote practice. We proudly wear the badge of rural generalist nurse – “a jack of all trades and master of none” as coined by Professor Desley Hegney back in the late 1990’s. The rural and remote nurse needs to have a diverse range of skills, professional and otherwise, and one of our biggest challenges is in being able to maintain those skills in an environment in which they may not be used very often.
Another feature of rural and remote nursing is that our day to day activities are linked directly to the features of the community where the nurse is employed. Many rural and remote nurses are sole practitioners working in geographically diverse and challenging areas. For many rural and remote nurses, a common feature of their work will be the need to provide quality palliative care. Inevitably those nurses may be providing palliative care for people who are friends or acquaintances, and sometimes they may even be related to them, factors which place another dimension of the importance of the care they provide.
Although I have been a nursing administrator for decades now, I continue to keep my own hand in clinical practice, by “moonlighting” for a local domiciliary nursing service for the occasional weekend shift. In this role, something that is my own guilty pleasure, I have the privilege of supporting palliative patients in our community and I have used the palliAGEDnurse app to support my care. I have also been able to publicise the value of the app widely to the staff working at my hospital and through networks which include local aged care facilities, and more remote sites.
We have a Palliative Care Working Group at my usual hospital on the Atherton Tablelands in far north Queensland, and use this group to review our care, plan, network and educate. We have promoted the use of the palliAGEDnurse app through this group, and I was surprised when I “discovered” the app only to find that most of the group already knew about it!
Connectivity is sometimes a problem in some rural and remote areas but this does not seem to affect the app which provides ready access to easy to read and apply information about advance care planning, palliative care case conferencing and care planning for dying patients. The drop-down menus give ready access to excellent information, and can make a real difference for the nurse who is working on her own and in unfamiliar territory. The app and information contained through it provides an easy to follow framework which supports the palliative care approach.
I highly recommend the app to any nurse working in rural and remote areas and also encourage them to share the palliAGEDgp app, with their medical colleagues, and with members of the multidisciplinary team including pharmacists and other allied health professionals. The team can use the topics in the app menu as talking points and prompts in care planning. Please share it widely!
Here is the link to the CRANAplus ‘End of Life” Network of interest which is open to CRANAplus members. It provides a great avenue for rural and remote nurses who are CRANAplus members to share resources and to support each other within the group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/CRANAplusEndOfLife
Dr Ann Aitken PhD, Acting Director of Nursing & Midwifery, Rural and Remote Services, Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service