Currently providing services to the aged care sector from Caboolture all the way up to Cairns, Kaye Coates NP didn’t originally plan to venture into aged care. One day she attended a job interview and simply fell in love with the community. Determined to help older people to live comfortable lives, Kaye was initially working in Nambour, Queensland, doing rounds in a couple of different facilities. Kay now works for a large organisation where she hopes to integrate Nurse Practitioner roles into all facets of the organisation’s aged care facilities and services over time.
Tell us about the community you are working in and the nursing you are providing to patients.
I work within the residential aged care community because I saw a need for NPs in aged care. I work with a wonderful group of people, and find that it is very rewarding for me personally. My role is to care for the residents and older people who require nursing assistance and support at a higher level than is traditionally available in residential aged care facilities. This can include diagnosing people with health conditions, which can sometimes include ordering and interpretation of pathology tests and x-rays to determine the specific nature of the problem. Management of certain conditions may also involve prescribing medications as part of the treatment.
What is your typical day in your NP role?
In my previous NP role, I usually undertook rounds in different facilities, to see who was well and who needed extra attention. This was done in a collaborative way with the residential care facility staff and community nurses. I then communicated with the older person’s general practitioner or family members, depending on the circumstances.
Currently my role is more in clinical governance and clinical assessment when there are particularly challenging circumstances, which allows me to push for the development of NP roles throughout the organisation.
Why did you decide to become a NP?
I decided to become a NP because I saw there was a need. Originally, I was working as a manager in a community care setting and we had elderly people in the community who weren’t well enough to get out of their homes to meet their local GP, but they were determined not to go to hospital.
That made me realise there was a distinct need for the NP roles in the community, to ensure that this vulnerable population could access health care in their home.
What do you hope to achieve with your current role?
My role is a new one, so I am hoping that we may be able to have the NP role within aged care become more of the norm instead of the exception, so that the elderly people will have an increased level of care within the home settings that they are in.
If you weren’t a NP what would you be doing?
I think I would still be a community care manager, because I love that job as well. The NP role has been very challenging but very exciting, and I love the collaborative network that I can establish. I love communicating with the older residents in aged care and the team who are looking after them, working together for a better and greater outcome. It is very rewarding to me to help make a difference in the lives of the elderly. I think that’s the main thing!
Few words to describe NP?
Determined would have to be one! I can’t think of a better word than that. You need to have the staying power to stay in it, as the business model isn’t well established just yet. Outside the hospital setting, you must think of what business model will be viable in the future. I think it’s the biggest challenge.
What is you favourite memory or experience with your patients?
I have so many! The best part of being a NP is the bond and connection I made with the people I look after. In my role, I have the opportunity to help somebody who is starting to decline, find the reason why it’s happening, and help that person get well. Also, I can help someone to be as comfortable as possible nearing their end of life, making sure all their wishes are respected and carried through. This is very rewarding and important to me as a NP.
What do you feel is your greatest contribution to your community as a NP?
I think it would be doing research to work out the best pathway or viable model of care so that NP roles can continue in the future.
Most important characteristics for NPs, especially in aged care?
Determination and breadth of experience. For aged care, it is important to have breadth of experience, because you are dealing with people towards their end of life with complex and multiple conditions. You need all the skills and knowledge you can muster, from your past and recent experience as a RN and NP candidate.