Anna Shepherd, chief executive of Regal Home Health, has been named one of this year’s winners in the 100 Women of Influence Awards.
Shepherd has 32 years of experience in the community nursing and primary healthcare industry. She holds an honorary position of adjunct associate professor in the School of Nursing, University of Sydney, as well as a degree from Harvard.
Accordingly, she has a great deal to say on why community nursing is critical to her industry. Apart from a personal conviction in the advantages of expert care at home, Shepherd maintained it also provides highly practical benefits to the healthcare sector as a whole.
“Investing in this sector truly keeps people at home and reduces that revolving door, where people may be going to emergency departments because of social isolation, for perhaps urinary tract infections that haven’t been diagnosed, or wound infections,” she said. “Having an expert in the home means that from an acute and a chronic disease point of view, people get the right care at home.”
Community nursing can make a world of difference in a patient's quality of life: “They can stay at home supported by family and loved ones and they’re much more comfortable,” Shepherd said. This has real clinical benefits for a range of patients with chronic disease or in aged care.
“All people, throughout their lives, benefit from having expert holistic care at home, nursing care at home,” Shepherd said. “Certainly as people age, there are a lot of signs and symptoms that can escalate quite quickly. If [they] aren’t picked up quickly, then somebody will end up in an emergency department unnecessarily.”
Shepherd is humbled by the recognition of the work she has done. However, it’s seems safe to say that community nursing, to her, is a personal calling she would advocate for regardless.
“It needs to be taken seriously as a great opportunity for nurses to have an impact on people’s health outcome," she reflected. "For instance, if you’re in hospital [as a nurse], you do your very best care but you don’t get to see that you heal a wound or that the person really benefits from your expertise in the long term.
“I think that’s enormously rewarding to experience as a community nurse. Feeling like you’re a healer.”
The 100 Women of Influence Awards are presented by The Australian Financial Review and Westpac.Do you have an idea for a story?
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