The World Health Organisation has declared 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife! In celebration, we proudly share with you stories about members of our integrated neurological nursing and administrative teams.
Meet Kerry Alfieri – Service Coordinator (Geraldton)
After seven years of living in Melbourne, Kerry moved back to Western Australia in 2007. Kerry and her family chose Geraldton as their “sea change.”
After settling in Geraldton, Kerry joined the Neurocare team when an administration opportunity arose. At the time Kerry was looking to work school hours and the role was a perfect a fit. 13 years later and she is still enjoying her work and the supportive team environment!
If you call the Geraldton office, the first person you will usually speak to is Kerry. Her job is to ensure the smooth running of the office, enabling our nurses to get on with supporting clients.
No two days are ever the same for Kerry. Her role includes a variety of tasks including following up client referrals, clinic letters and test results, as well as planning and arranging support group meetings and nurse visits to outer areas.
The most satisfying part of her role is knowing the team is providing an essential service to the local community. Kerry often hears relief in voices when people make contact, and they tell her that they wished they had known about our service when first diagnosed.
Kerry was recently contacted by a family member of a former client. Our Geraldton team had previously provided support from 2010 to 2015. The family member was touched that she had remembered their family, and they were also happy to know that we were still around to support them.
For Kerry, the introduction of Telehealth has been beneficial for clients and our Geraldton Neurocare team. One of the biggest challenges faced in the Midwest is arranging neurologist appointments for clients. With limited visits by neurologists and the stress for clients of needing to travel to Perth for neurology appointments, Telehealth has been invaluable. Kerry is thankful that neurologists are starting to use Telehealth.
Over the years, there have been moments that have stayed with Kerry, the sad stories and the positive outcomes. She is grateful for the experience of working with some fantastic nurses in Geraldton, most of whom she keeps in regular contact with.
Kerry has seen the Neurological Council of Western Australia (the NCWA) evolve over the years under competent guidance. She believes the organisation has proven its worth in the health industry. Kerry has found working in the community to be rewarding, and she has met inspirational people along the way.
In 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, Kerry says: "This is the year for nurses to shine and be recognised for the truly awesome job they do. In typical style, you do not see them blowing their own horn but just quietly getting on with the job. The recognition is well deserved."
In her spare time, Kerry enjoys spending time with family, especially her gorgeous grandkids! Whenever she gets the chance, Kerry also loves travelling or camping with friends and testing her endurance at exercise boot camps.
Meet Stephanie Emmett - Integrated Neurological Nurse (Albany)
Stephanie values the relationships she has made with her colleagues since joining the Neurocare team four years ago. Her experience is one of great team camaraderie through the sharing of knowledge, perspectives and experiences.
A highlight on Stephanie’s calendar is the annual team get-together in Perth where she enjoys catching up with everyone and learning about what the other regions are doing.
Before commencing her career as an integrated neurological nurse, Stephanie enjoyed a few years of hospital-based nursing. While working in hospitals, Stephanie maintained an interest in how to best help people once they were back in their own homes.
As a nurse on a rehabilitation and stroke ward, Stephanie recognised a need for nursing support outside the hospital environment - not just for patients but also for partners and family members. She found that people were given a lot of information on the ward but did not take much of it in. Stephanie felt that access to a community nurse would help play a vital role in a person’s long-term recovery and ongoing self-management.
In the community nursing environment, Stephanie often comes across complex or difficult situations where people are struggling to manage symptoms they don’t understand. She finds it rewarding to realise that something can always be done to make things better, even by simply discussing the situation with someone who has an understanding of what is going on.
Stephanie says: “I like that the longer you work in the neurological and community area, the larger your network of resources becomes, enabling you to become a solid source of information for clients and to be able to navigate some of the trickier aspects of health care.”
In her role, Stephanie has found she can access information that is not necessarily communicated by the client or family. She likes the opportunity of being able to get an accurate and holistic view of a person’s world outside of their medical condition to start being able to work with them on whatever needs they need to address.
Stephanie says: “The relationships and trust that are built over time with clients is extremely rewarding. I have some wonderful conversations with clients and their families, some really funny ones as well."
For Stephanie, 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife is “an opportunity to highlight how far nursing has come and how much of an integral part of the health team nurses really are - more than just assistants to doctors!"
For aspiring considering a pathway into community nursing, Stephanie says: “If you are interested in health as a holistic concept that encompasses physical, mental, emotional and social considerations – and you don’t mind a bit of troubleshooting and trying to manage expectations – then community nursing is a great opportunity."
Outside of the world of community nursing, Stephanie loves walking, listening to podcasts, practising yoga, playing with her dog and fishing (she doesn’t love cooking, but she wished she did!). She also has spent time travelling the world and has spent several years living in England and Scotland and skiing all over Europe and New Zealand. These days Stephanie still enjoys travelling but has become more of a homebody – she counts Australia as the best place to live!
Meet Kiera Perrin - Integrated Neurological Nurse (Perth Metro)
Kiera joined the Neurological Council of WA (NCWA) last year as a graduate nurse in the Neurocare team after completing her degree.
During her time at university, Kiera completed practical placements in hospital settings. Kiera found she was often curious about what happened to patients after their hospital journey finished and they were discharged home.
At university, Kiera was told that she needed a graduate program and to work in a hospital upon graduation – that this was the only choice. Yet, after finishing university, Kiera decided to take the community nursing pathway instead. This career decision has provided her with the opportunity to learn and develop skills in caring for and supporting patients after hospital discharge.
Kiera feels that community care and support for the patient’s post-hospital discharge is very important in ensuring that people can remain safe and healthy in their own homes. Since joining the Neurocare team, Kiera has come across new clients who never knew support was available to them.
Kiera says: “A lot of new clients I meet with who have ongoing neurological conditions have had no idea that support like Neurocare was available. Being able to go into our client’s homes to discuss what we can do to help, and seeing the look of relief that they are getting help is a very rewarding and heart-warming experience.”
As a nurse new to the profession, Kiera has come across challenges from the perspective that she has found it difficult to see clients around her age, dealing with neurological conditions impacting their daily lives. But what has come out of these situations is the positive experience of being able to support clients with day-to-day living as well as being someone that clients can reach out to.
Having learned so much as a graduate nurse in the community setting, Kiera encourages nursing students and graduates to explore all the exciting, challenging and diverse career pathways available to them.
Kiera says: “I have learned so much being in the community that I would have never have known working in the hospital setting. As a graduate community neurological nurse, I have found my career so far to be very rewarding. I have learned a lot about behind-the-scene processes of nursing assessments and the different services available for clients living in the community with a neurological condition.”
As a nurse new to the profession, Kiera feels that 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife is a great honour for the nursing and midwifery profession. Reflecting on this celebration, Kiera is grateful to those who inspired her to become a nurse - in particular the nurses who welcomed and supported her during a work experience placement in her final year of high school. The experience of learning, observing and engaging with patients made Kiera feel like nursing was the career for her.
Meet Eileen Murray - Integrated Neurological Nurse (Bunbury)
Eileen grew up in a small rural community in Scotland where community nurses played an important role. She also personally gained exposure to community nursing with members of her family receiving nursing support.
As a young and impressionable girl, Eileen’s dream was to become a community nurse. This dream was fostered by the bond she felt with the nurses her family received support from. They felt part of her extended family.
As an adult, Eileen initially found the path to becoming a community nurse long journey. She was ecstatic and overjoyed when the Neurological Council of WA (the NCWA) gave her the opportunity to become a community neurological nurse. This fulfilled Eileen’s childhood dream.
Eileen joined the Neurocare team at the NCWA in 2014. Since joining the team, Eileen has found great support in her colleagues and never feels alone in her job. She thrives on the diversity of her role and enjoys dealing with the many aspects of client care and the challenges she faces.
Eileen feels humbled and privileged to be able to help her clients and their carers in their journeys. She finds great satisfaction supporting people to navigate the system and empowering them to remain at home. Eileen values the relationships nurtured during times of joy as well as sadness.
Eileen’s words of wisdom for aspiring nurses are to consider a career in community nursing as it is challenging, exciting and rewarding in so many ways. Every client has their own story and you have the opportunity to build trusting relationships.
Meet Claire Stoddard - Neurocare Navigator (Perth Metro)
Claire joined the Neurological Council of WA (the NCWA) in 2016 after moving to Perth from the United Kingdom. Before moving to Perth, Claire had lived all her life in Stoke-on-Trent and had worked for the same employer for nearly 28 years.
After taking the plunge and moving to Perth with her husband, Claire found applying and interviewing for new jobs daunting. Her first interview was at the NCWA. When Claire was offered the opportunity to work at the NCWA, she was very pleased and hasn’t looked back.
Initially starting as a receptionist, Claire was provided the opportunity to widen her scope, moving into healthcare administration supporting the NCWA’s Neurocare team. In 2019, she was appointed to the role of Neurocare Navigator.
Her role at the NCWA is different from what Claire has been used to in her career back in the UK and one that she thoroughly enjoys. A typical day for Claire includes managing new referrals; updating systems with new client details (including wellness support plans); submitting referrals to My Aged Care (for domestic assistance, social support, and equipment for clients); and supporting the Neurocare team with other healthcare-related administration.
Claire finds satisfaction in seeing elements of her working coming together to become a positive outcome for the client – from the initial new client referral to the final result in the form of a wellness/support plan. She says: “It feels good to know that we are helping people in the community to be safe in their home and hopefully they don’t feel alone – we are always here to offer support.”
For aspiring nurses or health care professionals considering a pathway into community nursing, Claire says: “There will be many challenges along the way but the end rewards can be so worth it – especially making a difference to people’s lives. If you're facing challenges, take each day as it comes, do your best and be kind.
Even though I’m not a nurse and have no medical background, I can truly appreciate what a hard job and often challenging job that ALL nurses do. We should celebrate our nurses and support them for the wonderful job that they do.”
Outside of her working life at the NCWA, Claire and her husband are big soccer fans. For several years they were members of the England Supporters Club and travelled overseas for many games. A highlight of Claire’s adventures includes a trip to Moscow in 2007 for the European Championship Qualifier Game – England versus Russia (England lost 2-1!!)