Extra nurse navigators being recruited

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Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service will continue to expand its Nurse Navigator team, following the State Government's announcement the positions will be made permanent across Queensland.

There are currently 13 experienced nurses delivering services to local patients who have complex conditions and need assistance, as they navigate the health system to get the best possible care.

WBHHS is already recruiting additional nurse navigators, with plans already under way for extra positions covering areas such as palliative care, children and youth, Parkinson’s disease, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.

“Our nurse navigators have been a great success, helping patients with complex conditions by creating partnerships with them, coordinating their care and improving their health outcomes,” health service chair Peta Jamieson said.

“The care provided by our nurse navigators puts into action the title of our strategic plan, Care Comes First…Through Patients Eyes. This model works in partnership with patients with complex conditions to ensure they receive care that considers all their needs.

“It’s great to have funding in the State Budget that ensures these important positions are continuing, which will enable WBHHS to keep expanding our Nurse Navigator program into more areas.

“Currently WBHHS is recruiting two more palliative care nurse navigators and plans are under way to employ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health nurse navigators, after the need for those positions was identified in a recent Closing the Gap workshop.”

Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services Fiona Sewell said the Nurse Navigator program was helping to ensure patients journeying through the health system were treated in a holistic way.

“In Wide Bay we have high levels of patients with chronic diseases and, as a result, when they’re referred to a new specialist for treatment it can be more complex and require additional support,” Ms Sewell said.

“Our nurse navigators work in partnership with the patient and their family, taking the time to develop a plan of care that addresses their needs and respects their time and circumstances.

“By using their knowledge of the system, access to healthcare team members across our service and their own clinical expertise, our experienced nurse navigators help complex patients receive the best possible care.

“They become a central point of communication for the patient, reducing fragmentation between different areas and helping the patient understand different aspects of their care.

“Nurse navigators also actively help patients to better understand their health condition and promote self-management, which improves outcomes and helps patients be more independent in their daily life.”

Nurse navigator
A nurse navigator focuses on the patient’s entire health care journey and all their health needs, rather than just on a specific disease or condition.

More about nurse navigators

From the Queensland Health website:

Key principles of the Nurse Navigator Services:

  1. Coordinating patient centred care
  2. Creating partnerships
  3. Improving patient outcomes
  4. Facilitating systems improvement

Nurse Navigators will:

  • use a multi-disciplinary approach to monitor high needs patients, identify actions required to manage their health care and direct patients to the right service, at the right time and in the right place.
  • provide a central point of communication and engagement to ensure optimal care and coordination of services along a patient’s entire health care journey.
  • educate and help patients to better understand their health conditions and enable them to self-manage, participate in decisions about their health care and improve their own health outcomes.

Nurse Navigators support and work across system boundaries and in close partnership with multiple health specialists and health service stakeholders to ensure patients receive the appropriate and timely care needed.

The health service will identify if you qualify for this service and assign a Nurse Navigator to connect with you.

Healthcare consumers

Who will be able to access the service and how?

The nurse navigator service will provide end-to-end care for those patients with the greatest health care needs. This may include patients with multiple chronic illnesses, those with a high need for health services, or those who have complicated health conditions. These patients will be identified by the health system and connected with a nurse navigator.

How will this benefit patients?

Patients will receive a more integrated approach to their health care, which will ensure they are directed to the most appropriate service, when and where needed. This service will provide patients with a smooth, seamless transition between different service providers. By building a patient’s awareness of their health care needs and the services available to assist them, nurse navigators will also educate and empower patients so they are better able to manage their own health care and better prepared for their journey through the health system.

Scenario example

John is 59 years of age and lives in a remote area of Queensland. He has a background of chronic heart disease, peripheral vascular disease and has poorly controlled type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Over the last week John has been getting increasingly short of breath and visits his local health centre before being admitted to hospital for treatment for pneumonia. The hospital recognises that John’s care needs are complex and assigns him a nurse navigator.

The navigator helps identify and coordinate access to the services that John requires so that he isn’t left to do this on his own when he is at his sickest and most confused, and helps ensure that John will receive the care he needs, when and where he needs it.

The navigator also helps John with his hospital admission, develops a care plan and will be his key point of contact in negotiating the health system.

John’s nurse navigator works across organisational and sector boundaries to coordinate and manage his complex health care needs, taking into account his medical history and remote location. The nurse navigator acts as a central point for communication and engagement with all stakeholders who have a role in John’s health care, ranging from his local health service, to his cardiology and endocrinology specialist nurses and doctors hundreds of kilometres away, as well as his family members.

The nurse navigator spends time with John to educate him about his conditions and will support him to self-manage his health and wellbeing. Having identified John as a high risk patient, the nurse navigator maintains regular contact with him to ensure he is safe and his health needs are being met.

This end-to-end approach helps John overcome any potential barriers to receiving the care he needs, and helps him avoid unplanned readmissions to hospital.

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