Student nurses REACH out

A new type of health and wellness service is available in Perth thanks to a new primary healthcare program placement program for student nurses.

The program offers three types of service – population health checks in community settings, a roaming Wellness Centre and a Nurse Practitioner Community Health and Wellness Centre operating from the Central Institute of Technology’s Harold Street campus.

The REACH program is a collaborative initiative between WA Health’s Nursing and Midwifery Office, Curtin University, and Central Institute of Technology. It is funded by Health Workforce Australia (HWA).

The outreach model of this program gives students invaluable practical experience in the management of chronic health conditions and moreover, ensures support and care is there for clients that traditionally fall through the net of established health services.

Under supervision of qualified nursing staff, the students operate mobile health clinics or ‘hubs’ that bring health and wellness services directly into the community.

Western Australia’s Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer, Catherine Stoddart, said that although the REACH clinics had been designed to complement existing health services, the Wellness Centres were open to all. The Centres give nursing students an opportunity to access a primary health care experience and provide health and wellness support to people who do not routinely access these services.

“Provided an individual is happy to have a student sit in on their appointment, the Wellness Centre offers a real alternative to support clients to maintain and achieve health and wellness”, said Ms Stoddart.

“The program is ideal for people who have chronic or complex health issues that require ongoing management.”

REACH’s population health checks involve teams of students visiting various sites to conduct free health checks that include blood pressure, pulse, blood glucose levels, total cholesterol, girth measurement and a lifestyle assessment. Participants are given feedback regarding their results and offered health education and resources when required.

The idea of Reach began as a means of extending the availability of work placements for students but it soon took on more profound proportions”, said Central MD Neil Fernandes.

“By extending the service to the community we tapped into a well of great need. I can’t imagine the benefit that our students gain from seeing, at very close quarters, the benefits of the services that they provide in the course of their learning.”

Even though today was the official launch day, Reach is already an award winner! Earlier this month, Reach won the Innovation in Clinical Supervision at the 2013 WA Clinical Supervision Awards. A new health and education industry event that celebrates clinical supervisors, and the teams that support them, as they develop and inspire our future health professionals. Congratulations to the Reach team for such early recognition.

Reach will enable people to:

  • Access primary health care services at a local level
  • Engage in the self-management of their health and/or chronic disease
  • Address the determinants of ill-health via improved health literacy and education; and
  • Partner with Reach to identify and achieve their health goals.

In partnership with key organisations Reach will:

  • Accept individuals that have been referred by the partner organisation
  • Promote healthy lifestyle choices
  • Identify risk factors and chronic conditions early
  • Support setting health goals and the self-management of risk factors and conditions
  • Offer continuous care and support ensuring regular reviews of consumers’ care plans in partnership with the consumer
  • Develop effective referral pathways with primary health care providers and other community service providers that offer an integrated and holistic model of care

In essence, Reach is about ‘reaching out’ and extending care into new territory. A ground breaking approach that maximises real life practical experience for the next generation of nurses, while extending a network of care out to the homeless, the disadvantaged and all those without ready access to health and wellness services.

View Central’s Health courses.

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