Hos­pice helps ru­ral pa­tients

Hos­pice out­reach nurses like a part of the fam­ily

Waikato News - - Front Page - DANIELLE NI­CHOL­SON

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.

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