Hospice helps rural patients
Hospice outreach nurses like a part of the family
Matamata woman Linda Wilson hasn’t let a brain tumour diagnosis stop her from doing the things she loves.
Diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma in December last year, nine months on Linda is still living a full and positive life. That is thanks, in part, to the support she and husband Robert receive from Hospice Waikato Rural Outreach nurse Jenni Bell.
Linda’s diagnosis came about when she went for an eye examination where her optician picked up that something wasn’t quite right. Linda was sent for a CT scan.
“We got a call from Linda’s doctor asking to see her,” said Robert.
“We went in and was admitted to hospital on December 4 and she was operated on on December 8.”
Linda spent two weeks in rehabilitation after surgery before being discharged to home.
Soon after Jenni was paired up with Linda and Robert, along with a district nurse who, like Jenni, visits the couple at home regularly.
Jenni’s role as a Rural Outreach nurse involves providing specialist palliative care advice and support to patients, their family and other health professionals, but she sees one of the most important parts of her role as offering emotional, social and practical support to people in rural communities who have a life threatening illness.
Hospice’s Rural Outreach nurses work in conjunction to support families with whatever they need, from counselling to medical equipment. Jenni works in collaboration with district nurses, GPs and other health providers so the patient and their family has wrap-around care.
Jenni generally checks in with her patients once a fortnight but more frequently if her patients’ needs are increasing.
For Linda and Robert, Jenni has helped arrange respite care for Linda at nearby Pohlen hospital, which has a palliative care wing, so that Robert can take a break for a couple of days.
“It’s a real privilege to work with people on this journey they are on,” said Jenni.
“It’s quite a private time with them in their home. It’s very rewarding to be able to be with people at this time in their lives. They are very welcoming.”
Jenni said she often feels she becomes part of a family’s “inner circle” but she also recognises there are times when she needs to step away and respect a family’s privacy.
Jenni has been a Rural Outreach nurse for five years now. Prior to that she was a district nurse in Morrinsville, Te Aroha and Auckland.
At any one time, Jenni has about 35 patients on her books whom she visits in Matamata, the outskirts of Cambridge, Tirau, Putaruru, Arapuni and Tokoroa.
Linda and Robert both remain buoyant and “take it one day at a time”.
“Jenni provides warmth, friendliness. She’s just a really good person,” said Robert.
“Generally Linda is in good heart but when she’s a bit down Jenni cheers her up. She’s a good friend to us.”
While Linda has lost her peripheral vision and needs some assistance getting in and out of chairs, for the most part she has remained active and well. Though her weakened left hand does give her a bit of trouble. She refers to it as an “adolescent young man” in that it’s disobedient and unreliable.
The couple recently took a trip to Wellington to attend an occupational therapy clinical workshop.
Linda was a principal lecturer in occupational therapy at Otago Polytechnic where she founded the institute’s occupational therapy school.
The last two of her supervised students were presenting at the workshop in Wellington and she was thrilled to see them speak.
It’s very rewarding to be able to be with people at this time in their lives. They are very welcoming. JENNI BELL, HOSPICE WAIKATO RURAL OUTREACH NURSE
TOGETHER: Linda Wilson and husband Robert at home in Matamata.