Nurses and midwives share lessons learnt from COVID-19

27/Jul/2020     HealthMater Group

More than 60 people across Mater’s Queensland-wide campuses recently came together to tackle the big issues facing the state’s healthcare landscape, including the noticeable effects of COVID-19, in the first Nursing and Midwifery Grand Round for the year.

In recognition of Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, nursing and midwifery ground rounds are intended to encourage healthcare staff to share current information on a range of nursing and midwifery trends and issues.

As Mater’s first of the new quarterly series coordinated by its Nursing and Midwifery Council, last week’s grand round was hosted virtually and saw Mater staff confront the big issues of the moment by addressing the ongoing effects of COVID-19 across healthcare practices, patient experience and transforming service delivery. 

The key focus of the session came from Hospital in the Home (HITH) Clinical Nurse Consultant, Ash Gibson and Respiratory and Cystic Fibrosis Nurse Practitioner, Bec Keating, who joined forces to share how Mater’s HITH service has rapidly expanded to ease pressure on in-hospital services and protect vulnerable patients with chronic conditions during the COVID-19 response.

“At the height of the outbreak, our team was rapidly trained and grew from 13 to 22 to provide enough support for both COVID-positive and non-COVID-positive patients who needed treatment but could receive treatment from our mobile practitioners in a non-clinical setting, in the comfort of their own homes,” Ash revealed.

“The demand for HITH service peaked in late March when our teams were responding to both numerous COVID-positive patients along with the usual number of non-COVID HITH patients,” she explained.

“During this peak, our teams needed to expand their service offering to meet the significant increase in referrals from haematology, respiratory, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer care services to provide care to more people from their homes, lessening pressure from our hospitals.”

Bec added that the pandemic forced teams to think outside the box for service delivery and make innovative change that ordinarily may have taken years.

“Under the pressure of COVID-19, we had to look beyond the four walls of a hospital and reimagine how care can be delivered,” she said.

“From the need to protect vulnerable people and take pressure off our hospital systems, we actually found a number of unexpected benefits for both staff and patients by increasing treatment in the home.”

Having seen a significant drop in non-attendance rates to clinical appointments, the teams added that they have been able to educate patients and their families on how care can be delivered in the home and provide them with a broader range of services available.

“Guiding families through their healthcare options was definitely made easier from the comfort of their homes, and we also found that there was so much to be learned from witnessing people in their home environments,” Bec added.

“We have gained an invaluable level of insight into our patients’ lives which will undoubtedly help us to further tailor our services to suit each patient’s individual needs in the future.”  

“You realise what is ‘normal’ for us is not necessarily the same for everyone else and there is so much to be gained from seeing what goes on for our patients beyond a clinical setting.”

Mater at Home Nurse Unit Manager, Jen Byrne said the HITH model, which is currently available to both private and public Mater patients in South East Queensland, allows teams to provide services to those who are vulnerable and at risk through continued innovation.

“Hospital in the Home has provided us with more opportunity to care for our patients in their own homes by keeping more people out of clinical settings,” Ms Byrne said.

“With the expansion of HITH services seen throughout COVID-19, our teams were required to adapt to many new cohorts of patients and we saw a commendable demonstration of a multidisciplinary approach throughout Mater, with great collaboration across departments and externally with Queensland Health and other health agencies.”

“Seeing how this service can be adapted to suit so many types of chronic illness during our pandemic response has reinforced its potential to be expanded further, even in a post pandemic environment. We are encouraging more services to consider if a patient may see greater benefits from
receiving care in their home environment than in a hospital setting.”  

To find out more information on Hospital in the Home at Mater, visit

Pictured: Mater Hospital Brisbane Emergency Department nursing team. 

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