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May 15, 2021

Specialised Parkinson’s nurse for the Tweed Byron district

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Member for Tweed Geoff Provest, Parkinson’s NSW Board President David Veness and NNSWLHD Chief Executive Wayne Jones sign the Memorandum of Understanding in the presence of local members of the Tweed Parkinson’s Support Group. Photo Supplied.

Scout Wallen

The Tweed-Byron hospital network is introducing a specialised Parkinson’s nurse position to support people living with Parkinson’s disease.

Announced last Tuesday 10 December, this position will offer a specialist neurological nurse to support the Tweed, Byron and Ballina communities. 

The new position is being funded by Northern NSW Local Health District in partnership with Parkinson’s NSW,  an organisation which strives to make life better for people living with Parkinson’s, their families and carers.

Yvonne, a member of the Northern rivers support group for Parkinson’s, said that the instillment of this position would help to alleviate some of the stress placed on carers. 

‘Our support groups are run by carers of someone who has Parkinson’s so it is difficult sometimes to input into the support role as much as we would like as we are too busy looking after own person loved one,’ she said. 

Making a difference

President of the Parkinson’s NSW Board, David Veness, said the position would make a huge difference for the local Parkinson’s community.

‘The prevalence of Parkinson’s has been reported as higher in rural and remote areas, yet most of the specialist services for Parkinson’s are found in capital cities,’ said Mr Veness.

State Member for Tweed Geoff Provest said that the specialised nurse would provide evidence-based advice and advanced nursing services whilst connecting people with support in their own community. 

‘There is also evidence that this model of care helps to reduce the sense of isolation many people with Parkinson’s experience, along with the high rates of depression and anxiety associated with the disease,’ said Mr Provest.

‘Where communities have access to a specialist nurse, carers and family members also show significant improvements in their own well-being, with reduced levels of depression.’

Parkinson’s NSW and Local Health Districts in NSW currently fund neurological nurses in two other regional areas – Coffs Harbour and Shoalhaven.

Calls for the position to be spread

The Northern Rivers support group would like to see a similar role be extended to more hospitals in the Northern Rivers.

‘Parkinson’s is one of Australia’s most burdensome illnesses both economically and physically, and this will only increase over time,’ said Yvonne.

‘If people can be well supported by this new nurse it will be fantastic but we would love to see it spread even further.‘

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