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Nurse Practitioners in Aged Care the Way of the Future

New South Wales’ leading aged care provider, Peninsula Villages, considers the role of a Nurse Practitioner to be the way of the future in aged care, particularly after experiencing two extended lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic.


A Nurse Practitioner is a Registered Nurse with the experience, expertise and authority to diagnose and treat people of all ages with a variety of acute or chronic health conditions. Nurse Practitioners have completed additional university study at a master’s degree level and are the most senior and independent clinical nurses in our healthcare system.


When Leanne Northrop started a career in nursing, she didn’t realise it would become a passion. Now, holding the role of Nurse Practitioner at Peninsula Villages, not only is she enjoying working in a forward-thinking organisation, but she is also seeing a real difference in her role supporting residents and helping to reduce hospital admissions and reliance on increasingly stretched GPs.


Peninsula Villages is one of only a few aged care facilities to have a full-time Nurse Practitioner on-site. With the Peninsula region currently experiencing an aged care GP crisis, Leanne’s presence has allowed Peninsula Villages to continue to offer high quality care to residents needing ongoing or one-off care.


“From our perspective, Nurse Practitioners in aged care are the future. If you have somebody on site who’s clinically trained to an advanced level and can help avoid unnecessary hospital admissions, it can take away pressure from the whole health system, which is currently strained from Coronavirus pressures,” explained Peninsula Villages’ Chief Executive Officer, Colin Osborne.


“Nurse Practitioners have a higher level of training than Registered Nurses and are able to independently diagnose and prescribe medications as well as treat health conditions within their scope of practice.


“That means having a Nurse Practitioner also benefits our aged care residents, who can access better symptom management in a timely manner and with less complications,” he added.


Recently relocated from Western Australia, Leanne brings a wealth of experience to the role at the Central Coast aged care facility, having worked in rural and remote areas, supporting Elders and working within various health care settings.


“Although my clinical adventures and experiences have been priceless in Western Australia, the people I met along the way have provided the greatest joy and privilege, particularly our wise Elders,” said Leanne.


“In recent years, I have been a Nurse Practitioner in residential aged care facilities and worked with WA Country Health. This was when I became an advocate for access and equity of health care for the elderly as well as rural and remote people.


“I am excited to have joined Peninsula Villages on the beautiful Central Coast bringing with me a keen interest in wound care, emergency care, aged care and chronic condition management. When the clinical and allied medical teams work with us and our residents to understand and manage illness and injury, the outcomes are remarkable,” added Ms Northrop.


The role of the Nurse Practitioner at Peninsula Villages is to collaborate with local GPs in providing care, services and treatment plans to residents. The primary focus of the role is to monitor and identify exacerbation of chronic health conditions and provide specialised end of life care.


“As Peninsula Villages’ Nurse Practitioner, Leanne reviews around 50 residents per week for chronic, palliative and gerontological assessment and provides an additional clinical skill in assisting our RNs,” continued Mr Osborne.


“This has resulted in a reduction in Peninsula Villages’ transfers to hospital which is of particular importance as we continue to operate during a global pandemic,” he concluded.