Category: Allied Healthcare Professionals
Objective: The MD Specialist Nurse, a project funded by the Commonwealth of Australia started 1 year ago to provide access to specialist nursing care and coordination to people with MD in the NT, Australia. The role also provides training and support to health professionals.
Background: The NT has an area of 1.42 million km2 with only 249.000 inhabitants. 30.4% are First Nations Australians. Multiculturality and sparse population areas from the desert Centre to the tropical Top End are the main features of the NT. The population lives in urban, rural, remote, and very remote areas serviced by 5 hospitals and primary health clinics. There are 3 neurologists in the Top End and visiting neurologists in Central Australia. Also, geriatricians, rehabilitation specialists, and GPs provide care to MD patients.
Method: Identification of clients through referrals from GPs, specialists, allied health team, aged care, disability support providers, and self-referrals. Promotion of the role in Parkinson’s Day through radio, press and news. Trips to Katherine and Alice Springs every 3 months, and to remote communities once a year. Research Project to evaluate the MD specialist nurse role.
Results: 166 identified patients with MD (68 female); 9.64% are First Nations Australians. A 79.5% have a diagnosis of PD, 11.4% atypical Parkinsonism, 4.2 % essential or dystonic tremor, and 3% Huntington’s disease. 78% live in the Greater Darwin region, 10.2% in Central Australia, 7.2% in Big Rivers and 3.6% in East Arnhem Land. During 2022, the MD specialist nurse travelled 13900 km by plane and 4500 km by road to provide the service. The main problems identified are: 1 Difficult access to specialist services due to NT geography; 2 Lack of compliance with the scheduled follow-up visits in the urban area; 3 Health disparity in the access to advanced treatments for PD; 4 More than half of these clients needed care coordination; 5 Lack of speech therapist support.
Conclusion: The role of the MD specialist nurse has improved the monitoring of new medication regimes, optimisation of follow-up visits, improvement in accessing services and quality of life. In addition, it has helped to increase the knowledge of MD within health professionals. Probably due to high staff rotation and long waiting lists, the number of patients with MD in the NT is underestimated, and the objective is to have a more accurate identification.
To cite this abstract in AMA style:Y. Hernandez Gomez. Movement Disorders (MD) Specialist Nurse pilot project in Australia’s Northern Territory (NT): One year of experience. [abstract]. Mov Disord. 2023; 38 (suppl 1). https://www.mdsabstracts.org/abstract/movement-disorders-md-specialist-nurse-pilot-project-in-australias-northern-territory-nt-one-year-of-experience/. Accessed September 27, 2023.
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MDS Abstracts - https://www.mdsabstracts.org/abstract/movement-disorders-md-specialist-nurse-pilot-project-in-australias-northern-territory-nt-one-year-of-experience/