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Liz Jackson, and her partner Harry, opened Toowoomba's first Nurse Next Door service. Picture: Supplied.

New home care service to help regional Queenslanders stay at home longer

A Queensland couple has launched a new home care franchise to meet the increasing demand for quality aged and disability care in their regional town. 

Liz and Harry Jackson launched the Nurse Next Door home care service in Toowoomba to pair caregivers with people based on their unique needs, experiences and personal interests.

“It's incredibly rewarding to be able to empower people to stay at home where they'd want to be,” Liz told Aged Care Insite. 

“Once you see people realise that with the right support they can stay at home, and they get some hope for the future and possibility in their minds. It just changes everything for them.”

Founded in Canada, Nurse Next Door expanded to Australia in 2019 and has opened franchises in Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and in regional NSW.

Known for its pink cars, the service is underpinned by a happier ageing philosophy that aims to uncover a patient's past hobbies or experiences and incorporate them into their care delivery.

Staff are also surveyed about their own personal characteristics to create the perfect match.

“We certainly spend a good amount of time trying to understand our clients, and get to know them. Be really present,” said Liz.

“We find out what things they used to do that they no longer can do, and then try and work out ways that together we can reengage them with those things to enhance their wellbeing.”

The home care sector has made a steady transition into more person centred models of care, which enables people to have more control over the services they receive and how they access them.

As a registered nurse of 18 years, Liz said she was instantly drawn to the concept as it was unlike anything she had experienced while working in traditional healthcare. 

“The ability to provide genuine, caring as a nurse is much more achievable in this setting,” she said. 

“I've always found it difficult within the confines of the health system, and I have always dreamed of creating a service where I can build a team of people who are genuinely like-minded.”

The number of Queenslanders aged over 65 is projected to increase by 1.7 million by 2049, according to state government figures. 

With most Australians wanting to stay at home rather than enter residential care, the need for diverse home-based services will rise in the coming decades. 

Liz said she has witnessed first-hand the lack of healthcare accessible to people requiring disability and aged services in regional areas such as Toowoomba. 

“There is a really high demand for nursing services,” she said.

“Particularly as you get out into the regional areas, there's a lot of people who are going without care, and I saw this area as a really good place to be able to make a difference in that regard.”

One of the key measures from the final report of the royal commission highlighted a significant shortfall in home care packages. Currently, figures estimate around 97,000 people remain on waitlists to be assigned to one.  

With less than a third of older Australians expressing high levels of trust in the sector, building trust in the local community will come down to maintaining quality, according to Liz. 

“I think it's all about building that relationship from the very first touchpoint, and going in there with absolute genuine intention and building that trust right from the first interaction with the client,” she said. 

“Age should be no barrier to happiness, and we want to help our clients re-engage with those things and then help them achieve getting back to doing the things they love.”

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