NURSE manager Brett Hayes from York took out the top gong at the Western Australian Nursing and Midwifery Awards at the weekend.
The WA Country Health Service (WACHS) employee developed TelePalliative Care in the Home in the Wheatbelt in 2016.
He was named the Western Australia’s Nurse of the Year.
Mr Hayes, who works only in the Wheatbelt region, has been a nurse for 10 years and started his career in the city.
“There is quite a contrast between metropolitan and regional nursing,” Mr Hayes said.
“Here, we’re encouraged to think innovatively and given freedom to explore new ideas,” he said.
He said listening to patients and their families had been fundamental to the development of telehealth technology and had proved important when supporting patients in the final stages of their life.
“Telehealth, whereby our patients can reach us using audio and visual links over the internet, means those in rural and remote areas can access specialist services without the need to travel,” he said.
“It has made such a difference to supporting our patients with end of care life.
“Previously, only 7 to 14 per cent of those in the Wheatbelt wanting to die at home were able.
“This has increased to 70 per cent simply because we can now interact with them face to face via video conference. Our service has well and truly become mobile,” he said.
WACHS Head of Nursing and Midwifery Marie Baxter said Mr Hayes was “absolutely deserving” of Nurse of the Year status.
“Brett has achieved phenomenal results in allowing people to stay at home in their final stages of care,” she said.
“He has been persistent and committed in building better options for palliative patients and works with them and their families to achieve the best outcome,” she said.
Mr Hayes, who also took out the award for Excellence in Regional and Remote Nursing, said he was privileged to work in rural WA.
“If we – as experienced palliative care practitioners – can use telehealth to talk carers through uncertain or stressful times and provide them with support and reassurance, more people in the regions will be able to die at home where they want to, surrounded by their loved ones,” he said.
The TelePalliative Care in the Home service expanded to the Midwest last month and will begin in the South West and Great Southern in the next couple of months.