Men­tal health pa­tient mor­bid­ity on mind of WA’S top nurse

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - Mon­tana Ar­don

AMY Wal­lace’s pas­sion for keep­ing men­tal health pa­tients phys­i­cally healthy has led to her be­ing crowned WA Nurse of the Year for 2017.

A nurse at Gray­lands Hospi­tal for the past nine years, Ms Wal­lace took on the new role of clin­i­cal nurse spe­cial­ist for phys­i­cal health care in 2015.

“My job is to im­prove the over­all phys­i­cal health of the men­tal health pa­tients here,” she said.

“I think lat­est fig­ures show some peo­ple live 30 years less be­cause of phys­i­cal co-mor­bidi­ties when they have a men­tal ill­ness, and it shouldn’t be that way.”

Ms Wal­lace, orig­i­nally from Vic­to­ria, said her job was one of a kind.

“My role is the only one in WA, I be­lieve,” she said.

“I am the main re­source per­son for nurses on the ward for pa­tients’ phys­i­cal health; if there’s any­thing phys­i­cally wrong, I deal with it.”

Ms Wal­lace (34) has im­ple­mented sev­eral suc­cess­ful pro­grams at the hospi­tal, in­clud­ing a Well­ness Clinic and a sports ther­apy pro­gram for pa­tients in acute se­cure wards.

“Along with one of the se­nior OTS, we started the group to im­ple­ment some struc­tured ther­apy, as well as push­ing the phys­i­cal health side,” she said.

“We did a 24-week trial and got 118 par­tic­i­pants, which was as­tound­ing.”

Un­der Ms Wal­lace’s lead­er­ship, the num­ber of pa­tients re­quir­ing pre­scribed drugs for ag­i­ta­tion, dis­tress and ag­gres­sion dropped, while the num­ber of in­pa­tients re­ferred to a GP for health care has in­creased from 25 to 180 in the past year.

“We need to view the men­tal health pa­tient just like the gen­eral health pa­tient, and their care is just as im­por­tant.

“It’s no longer ac­cept­able for a men­tal health pa­tient to die 30 years younger than the rest of the pop­u­la­tion from phys­i­cal co-mor­bidi­ties that are pre­ventable.”

Ms Wal­lace also won the Ex­cel­lence in Reg­is­tered Nurs­ing Cat­e­gory at the 14th WA Nurs­ing and Mid­wifery Ex­cel­lence Awards, be­fore tak­ing home the cov­eted Nurse of the Year award from a field of 33 fi­nal­ists.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie

WA Nurse of the Year Amy Wal­lace.

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