ILLAWARRA-Shoalhaven Medicare Local has joined in a partnership with Parkinson’s NSW to continue the neurological nurse service in the Shoalhaven and Kiama regions.
The local program, which has been running for the past three years, keeps Parkinson’s disease sufferers in their homes longer.
Marilia Pereira was appointed to the position of neurological nurse in a two-year pilot program and despite the program being highly successful, government funding was discontinued.
A private benefactor and the Bendigo Bank kept the position running for a third year after a $40,000 donation and this new partnership will now allow the service to operate for at least another 12 months.
The new partnership between Illawarra-Shoalhaven Medicare Local and Parkinson’s NSW will in fact allow the service to be expanded to take in the Kiama area.
CEO of Parkinson’s NSW, Miriam Dixon, said the program had an innovative service design.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate that specialist nurses play an essential role in providing support to people living with conditions such as Parkinson’s and similar neurological conditions,” she said.
“We look forward to working with the Illawarra-Shoalhaven Medicare Local to develop new approaches and show how this might be done in the future.”
Chairwoman of Grand Pacific Health Ltd, which operates the Illawarra-Shoalhaven Medicare Local, Dr Vicki McCartney welcomed the new partnership.
“Previous work by Parkinson’s NSW shows that there is an impressive list of benefits that a specialist neurological nurse brings to the primary health care picture, including delayed entrance to aged care facilities and reduced anxiety for patients and carers,” Dr McCartney said.
Dr McCartney said specialist nurse Marilia Pereira, who started under the new partnership program on Monday, was a highly valued contributor to primary health care in the region.
“Her experience in looking after people with degenerative neurological conditions including Parkinson’s disease and their carers is warmly welcomed,” she said.
“And being able to extend the service and take in some of the northern region like Kiama is fantastic.
“The service caters for the southern area with specialised services that would most likely otherwise be unavailable.”
Ms Pereira looks after 220 active patients but has had 332 referrals during her time in the role.
“I’m ecstatic to be able to continue in this role,” she said.
“It is a huge area we look after, now Kiama in the north to North Durras in the south.
“And there is a large need for such a service.”
The project will deliver information on which to design future approaches to services of this kind.
It will run for one year and will contribute to designing innovations within the scope of the Medicare Local model.