June 27, 2019

KAW Nurses: Providing patients with moments of happiness

The Kath Atkinson Wing (KAW) at Bundoora Centre provides care, evaluation and management of individuals who are experiencing cognitive decline and medical illness.

Recently, the KAW nurses received the award for ‘Patient Experience’ at the Quarterly Staff Recognition Awards.

The team were nominated by Lilian Oparanozie, who said, “KAW unit is a challenging unit with patients who have behaviour and psychological symptoms of dementia. Despite the difficulties they face, the KAW nurses deal with patients with great empathy and understanding.”

Leanne Shannon, Nurse Unit Manager, says, “It can be very challenging and isolating down here, so to get that recognition really meant a lot!”

The unit specialises in dementia and cognitive behaviours, which can vary from an elderly woman in her 90s who is slightly confused, to men in their 50s who are physically aggressive.

“It’s the unexpected that’s difficult. The staff are having to adapt their nursing management style for different scenarios,” Leanne says.

“We’re getting younger men who don’t have dementia but have an acquired brain injury related to alcohol or drugs and because of that, have a cognition issue, so they come to us to sort it out.”

Through these unexpected and trying times, it is the team’s close family relationship and support for one another when it comes to complex patients that gets them through.

“I guess the most rewarding part is when you get a very complex behavioural person who comes in and you’re able to work as a team and implement strategies to manage their behaviour, and then you can discharge them and they don’t come back.”

But most importantly, it is the moments of happiness the team get to create for patients and their families that makes it all worth it.

“Recently, we had a particular patient who went in and out of her confusion. One of the things she said was – it’s not fair! I should be retired, travelling, going dancing with my husband,” Leanne says, “and she couldn’t do that,” she adds.

“We had a session here where we put on music and she was up dancing with her husband – it makes me cry every time I think about it.”

The team have also celebrated 90th birthdays, where families have come in and the ward throws a party.

“Even though the patient might not remember this at a later date, the families definitely will,” Leanne says.

“You can’t solve world problems, but you can give a moment of happiness and this is what keeps us going.”

Featured Image: The KAW Team

Leanne Shannon, Nurse Unit Manager, accepting the ‘Patient Experience’ award