Welcome to the Australian College of Nursing’s (ACN) Life in lockdown NurseClick series where we share the stories from the nurses protecting Australians during the second wave of COVID-19 in Victoria. Today, we speak Marilyn Harper MACN — a Registered Nurse and Regional Development Manager at BallyCara — to discuss how she is utilizing her nursing skills to assist clients in home care settings during Melbourne’s return to lockdown restrictions.
BallyCara’s Victorian arm is based in the Northern Suburbs of Melbourne which were among the first subjected to stricter COVID-19 related lockdown restrictions before the rest of the city.
“Our patients found the return to lockdown very confusing,” Marilyn says.
“Many didn’t know if they could or couldn’t go outside or go to the shops. It was particularly difficult for those whose residential suburbs were not in lockdown, but local shops were.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Marilyn has been making use of her nursing skills to ensure the needs of those who receive home care services — who are among our society’s most vulnerable — are still met throughout the pandemic.
“As a nurse working in home care, I can assist clients, staff and colleagues to have a greater understanding of the latest health information and advice,” she says.
“The cohort of clients we are looking after often have lots of comorbidities, an increase in clinical need and many have been reluctant to attend medical appointments or seek medical advice during COVID-19. I have been able to provide clinical advice and support to patients to help manage chronic health conditions during the lockdown period and ensure their needs continue to be met.”
A nursing background has also allowed Marilyn to develop trust with her clients and help them make important decisions about their health under the difficult circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of the main things I am doing currently is helping my clients navigate the health care system,” she says.
“To help calm the anxieties relating to COVID-19, I apply an evidence-based approach to validating information and its source. This allows me to assist individuals in making informed decisions and understanding the impact of the changes being forced upon us. Trust is a key advantage we have as nurses; it helps with the richness of information clients choose to share with us.”
Additionally, Marilyn’s clinical skills have come in use to ensure her patients can safely manage health issues in their own homes.
“For example, during lockdown, I stepped-up and did wound care for a client so they did not have to leave their house. I have also been undertaking cognitive assessments to ensure these services can be delivered to patients within the comfort of their own homes,” she adds.
Whilst the return to lockdown restrictions is a challenging time, Marilyn concludes by sharing several heartwarming stories of how her home care clients have found new ways to stay connected throughout the pandemic.
“Some of our clients have embraced technology and learned how to use FaceTime and Zoom to safely connect with their friends and family. We have a group of our clients who live in a retirement village and they’ve having driveway afternoon teas together whilst another lady I know has taken it upon herself to sew face masks.”