Funding cut for Shoalhaven’s only Parkinson’s nurse

THUMBS DOWN: Nina Cheyne, Brodie Cambourne exercise physiologist, Elizabeth Cannan, June Willis and Rita Brayne are disappointed after a recent announcement that funding for Ms Cheyne's position will not be available after June 30. Photo: Jessica McInerney.

THUMBS DOWN: Nina Cheyne, Brodie Cambourne exercise physiologist, Elizabeth Cannan, June Willis and Rita Brayne are disappointed after a recent announcement that funding for Ms Cheyne's position will not be available after June 30. Photo: Jessica McInerney.

Shoalhaven' only dedicated Parkinson’s disease nurse position is fighting for funds.

Nina Cheyne, Shoalhaven’s neurological nurse educator with Parkinson’s NSW recently discovered that funding for her position will end on June 30. 

Ms Cheyne’s job has been funded by the federal government’s Primary Health Network (Coordinaire) and Parkinson’s NSW for two and a half years. 

The decision to withdraw the $80,000 annual funding came as a shock to Ms Cheyne. 

“There was no explanation, I just couldn’t believe it, people have to know this is ridiculous,” she said. 

Ms Cheyne is the only neurological nurse educator within 300 kilometres of the Shoalhaven. 

Her job involves assessing patients and she’s a specialist in the neurodegenerative and Parkinson’s fields. She runs three Parkinson’s support groups in Nowra, Bomaderry, St Georges Basin and Ulladulla.

While a coverage area of Kiama to North Durras, Ms Cheyne is very concerned with what will happen to her 450 patients if her job is cut. 

“I work with their GP, neurologists and the allied health services to ensure they get the best care,” she said. 

“I love my job, I hate seeing patients suffer and I want them to have a decent quality of life.

“If it was your grandmother, you would want someone like me to help her.” 

One of Ms Cheyne’s patients, Bernard McGrath said the work the popular nurse does is invaluable. 

“In my opinion the work that she does more than covers the funding costs due to her extraordinary ability to manage so many patients,” he said.

“This enables many people living with Parkinson’s in the Shoalhaven area to stay at home whereas without Nina’s help they would be in nursing care or in need of intensive stay at home care.”

Ms Cheyne said she will be trying everything she can to see the funding returned. 

“I’m hopeful that the Coordinaire will see reason and reverse their decision,” she said. 

Ms Cheyne said after a similar situation occurred in 2013, the then Parkinson’s nurse Marilia Pereira received strong community support. 

Funding for the position was later reinstated. 

What is Parkinson's?

  • Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition that affects people from all walks of life. 
  • It is quite common, with approximately 70,000 Australians living with Parkinson’s.
  • The average age of diagnosis is 65 years, however younger people can be diagnosed with Parkinson’s too. This is referred to as Young Onset Parkinson’s.

Symptoms of Parkinson's

  • Parkinson’s is categorised by clinicians as a “movement disorder” and symptoms may include muscle rigidity, tremor, postural instability and bradykinesia (slowness of movement).
  • Many people think of tremor in Parkinson's but in around 30 per cent of cases tremor is not present.
  • Parkinson's doesn’t just affect movement. Non-motor symptoms such as pain, depression and problems with memory and sleep can also occur and have an impact on the day to day life of the person with Parkinson’s.
Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop