March 7, 2023

We are Northern: This is the Kath Atkinson Wing GEM

The Kath Atkinson Age Geriatric, Assessment and Management Unit (KAW GEM), is one of two units, along with the Kath Atkinson Wing Older Adults Mental Health Inpatient Unit, based in the Kath Atkinson Wing – KAW AGE at Bundoora Centre.

The unit is named in recognition of the outstanding contribution from Kathleen Atkinson to the former Bundoora Extended Care Centre (BECC). In 1972, Ms Atkinson worked tirelessly to help raise funds to build BECC, and in 1973, she formed the Preston Auxiliary, of which she was President.

The KAW GEM unit is a unique, 15-bed secure specialist geriatric assessment unit that provides care for individuals who are experiencing cognitive decline and medical illness.

The unit’s multidisciplinary team believe that care should be directed towards assisting the individual to regain a level of independence best suited to them. The staff are committed to providing quality care with an innovative approach.

KAW GEM NUM, Leanne Shannon says she is very proud to work with an amazing team.

“The nurses on the ward demonstrate patience, creativity and empathy in their approach to problem solving and patient care. This prevents escalation to behavioural crisis. The allied health team are thorough and practical and our expert neuropsychologists provide amazing support and management strategies,” she said.

“What happens as a result is a kind of magic. Where else would you find a senior nurse supporting a junior nurse while ballroom dancing with a patient, or a spontaneous chair aerobics class led by allied health and attended by smiling, giggling patients previously admitted from their residential care facilities due to unmanageable behaviours.”

The pandemic created some challenging times for the staff at KAW GEM, with patients having to be isolated and some not being able to comprehend why they were unable to see their loved ones. During this time, the staff implemented innovative ways to assist with communication, such as video chats with patients’ families.

KAW Occupational Therapist, Renee Catton, said the care provided is a very good example of patient-centred multidisciplinary care.

“Having video access during the pandemic was instrumental in providing comfort to patients. During this time, staff were all wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and lost their human appearance, and for people with dementia that was incredibly difficult to adjust to,” she said.

With new and exciting projects coming up, the KAW AGE GEM Unit is proud of initiating Tree of Care – a project aimed at highlighting Northern Health’s values and objectives via a tree on the wall with its leaves featuring positive statements.

The staff are also in the process of designing and implementing responsive behaviours quick reference flip cards, designed as an on-the-spot point of reference for health professionals and care staff who work with people with dementia. These cards will address 10 common behaviours and recommended assessments.

KAW GEM Dr Naba Waheed said working for the ward has been both challenging and extremely rewarding.

“The best thing about this ward is the amazing care provided by the nurses and the NUM. The leadership I have seen here is unlike any other,” said Dr Waheed.

 Thank you to our staff at KAW GEM for all your hard work and dedication!