Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) has appointed its first Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner, who will support people living in residential aged care facilities and the community.

New ‘super nurse’ Deborah Maclaren has been appointed to the role and has had plenty of experience in this field, having worked in community health for nearly 20 years, specialising in palliative care nursing.

The district currently has nurse practitioners working within the emergency departments and hospitals but this is the first time we have employed a specialist palliative care nurse, who can prescribe medications and implement effective pain management strategies.

“My role as a nurse practitioner involves visiting patients in their homes or aged care facility and provide them with care to minimise their pain and symptoms as a result of life-limiting illnesses,” she said.

“I provide comprehensive assessments of a patient’s health needs, which can include facilitating family conferences to assist them with complex decision-making.

“I also assist general practitioners, families, carers and nursing staff on how to identify the need for medication changes.

“Families find this type of treatment beneficial; they like that their loved ones are able to have their pain and symptoms managed in their own home, avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions.

“Many patients deteriorate over a short period of time so by establishing partnerships with GPs, families and staff, it enables me to give the patients quality palliative care and peace of mind.”

Deborah also receives support from specialist doctors and nursing staff within the acute facilities across WSLHD.

“Most people prefer to be treated in the comfort of their own home, however at times, this is not achievable due to the complexity of their pain and symptoms,” she said.

“I strive to have these patients directly admitted to our palliative care units across the district to avoid emergency department presentations.”

The nurse practitioner can visit homes or aged care facilities between 8.30am – 5pm Monday to Friday.

To make a referral for this free service, call 1800 600 681.



Story credit: NSW Government, WSLHD news.