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The role of a nurse has become increasingly central to the delivery of primary health care in Australia (Challis et al., 2018). Nurses working in primary health care can help address workforce shortages, improve access to health care and contribute to the management of chronic conditions and illness prevention (Dugani et al., 2018). In this essay, the role of a primary healthcare nurse in achieving community development has been addressed along with the benefits and challenges of the role.
The role and responsibilities of a community development nurse:
Primary health care (PHC) nurse contributes to the community in several ways, such as, by providing education to the community, about diseases which are highly prevalent or has an incidence rate in that particular community. A nurse may also provide the necessary advice and recommended guidelines for do’s and don’ts to be followed for any chronic illnesses such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure which are common in the elderly population in any community (Grant et al., 2017). A primary healthcare nurse is competent to address and suggest changes for life-style disorders, providing the community members enough healthcare information, in form of hand out filers, training sessions, videos, so that they can make independent and well-informed choices in their daily routine and live a disease-free life. The nurse aims to provide information which is easy to understand by the community members, avoiding medical jargon while preparing education material is vital for clear establishment of understanding of the conditions and recommendations (CDC, 2009; Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2017). Other responsibilities include dispensing of medications, pregnancy tool kits, immunization, conductive various screening tests, for instance, mammograms for breast cancer in women or screening for substance abuse in the adult/ millennials of the community (Martin-Misener et al., 2016). A primary health care nurse also undertakes community surveys to analyse the healthcare challenges within a particular community and provide evidence-based research solutions for treating the diseases or the conditions from which the community members are suffering from (Rudd, 2012). The role of a community development nurse is to also provide counselling and rehabilitative services in case of individuals exhibiting addictive behaviours such as smoking and alcoholism or depression.
The importance of the PHC nurse in attaining primary healthcare outcomes:
The role of a PHC nurse in the community is very important to promote health and human dignity. Following outcomes are achieved:
COVID-19 has had a major impact on the lives of people and resulted in an increase in the mortality rate in communities which has a larger population of elderly. This is because they are more vulnerable to catch the novel coronavirus infection, owing to compromised immunity, the ageing process, slowed cellular regeneration, and weakened organ system Basic instructions shared with the group, which makes them the most vulnerable group.
Intended consumer group:
The intended consumer group would be the elderly, especially with one or more comorbid conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and others, as well as those who are affected with fatal ongoing diseases, such as cancer or cystic fibrosis or any other terminally-ill conditions. According to the research, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019), this is because the elderly population exhibits high affinity for the novel coronavirus owing to compromised immunity, ageing process, slowed cellular regeneration, and weakened organ system.
The purpose is to improve the healthcare outcomes in the elderly population, by increasing the awareness of the spread of the infection. This can be done by employing various means of education, such as hand-outs, fliers, short documentary videos (Challis et al., 2018; CDC, 2019). It is necessary to educate them to maintain precautions so that they can be prevented from catching the infection as well as protect others from the spread of the same. Since the mortality rate in the elderly population is high in case of COVID 19, they must be provided with ample of information and necessary and immediate aid if acquired with the infection.
Benefits & Challenges:
The main benefit of PHC nursing in the community leads to health promotion within a community. The focus is made to rely on the members chances of increased immunity and self-care rather than relying on medical treatment and hospitalization (Bond et al., 2019). The awareness of the precautions to be taken at home and outside the home, proper use of masks, hand washing techniques, and maintaining social distancing, helps in containing the spread and improve the healthcare outcomes of the community. However, In the present time of COVID 19, many challenges are being faced by the healthcare professionals worldwide and most importantly the challenges faced by primary health nurses are critical as they form the front line of workforce amid community spread of the infection (Freeman et al., 2019; Nagesh & Chakraborty, 2020). These challenges encompass, lack of resources such as insufficient testing kits and lack of effective evidence-based approach regarding the infection, which offers limited scope of improving the health and well-being of the members infected with COVID 19. There has been no tested and verified vaccination or drug available for treating patients with severe cases, this has led to increase in the anxiety and fear of the infection in the community members as well as the nurses, as the cases continue to upsurge, especially in communities which lack proper sanitization facilities, and shortage of access to medical facilities (Nagesh & Chakraborty, 2020).
As many countries are facing the challenge of community spread of the infection, there is a severe shortage of staff to cover care for a vast number of people, thus the role of nurses is critical in reaching out and helping the community members in detecting symptoms and running tests on a larger level (Halcomb et al., 2018). Furthermore, the nurses are offer guidance to the community members and deliver coordinated care. It is a very difficult situation for a community if even one member is detected positive of COVID 19 virus, and he can only be helped by a nurse, who would guide him to approach a COVID special hospital and align the healthcare services required by the individual or the patient, such as aligning with the diagnostic teams, registered nurses in the hospital and various doctors/specialists. The impact on the mental health of the community members and the healthcare professionals is often ignored, while focusing on the physical aspects of care, resulting in increased work-related stress, mental fatigue and burn out in the PHC nurse. Adequate staffing should be ensured for managing the burden of healthcare to meet the healthcare needs of the community (Freeman et al., 2016).
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