Providing advanced practice nursing care to rural and remote Indigenous populations
Studies show that Indigenous Australians are more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to have respiratory diseases, mental health problems, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease, and as such often dies at much younger ages. In remote communities the rates of disease and complications are greater. Social factors that contribute to the gap in health between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people include education, employment, income and the physical environment where they live. All these facets are interwoven.
Shona Lynch, an Indigenous Nurse Practitioner (NP) provides nursing care in clinics, outreach to remote stations, home visits, health promotion at community events and visits to the women’s shelter, school and aged care facility. Shona is the only NP working in remote Cape York in a Primary Health Care setting, providing healthcare services to the Coen indigenous community in one of Australia’s must isolated regions. The main healthcare needs of the community are in chronic disease, ante natal and post-natal care, smoking and alcohol reduction strategies.
The healthcare service for this remote community is a family-centred model of care that encompasses a person’s connection to their family, their community and country. Shona provides advanced clinical nursing care and frequently must think on her feet and use the limited resources available to achieve the best outcome for her patients. Shona states “I feel blessed to have the trust of the patients who attend our clinic. Often they will present with problems or complications that a non-indigenous person living in a metropolitan area would have never tolerated or survived.”