Elly Dagley - GNS in Primary Care
Waitemata PHO, Waitemata DHB, and the University of Auckland are working in collaboration with Health Workforce New Zealand to provide comprehensive gerontology assessments in the community.
Elly Dagley, is the gerontology nurse, responsible for providing an enhanced service designed to improve the health and quality of life for older adults in Waitemata. The demonstration aims to achieve efficient management of services, sharing of patient information and improved liaison between community and secondary care services.
Elly began her nursing training in 1985 and then worked in residential care nursing and as a practice nurse before becoming a nurse educator in primary care. ‘Although I enjoyed being a nurse educator, I missed clinical work, I love the face-to-face contact and it’s incredibly rewarding working with older adults.’
The gerontology nurse demonstration, she says, is showing how well proactive screening can work. ‘There is a simple questionnaire that older adults are asked to fill out and post back to us. I work closely with GPs and the multidisciplinary team to ensure that each client is getting the most appropriate support and services. Typically, if it’s been established that an assessment would be helpful, I make an appointment to see a client so we can talk about what’s working for them and what’s not. It’s a trust-based relationship and I’m very clear that I’m there to help them with what they want. I want them to get the best care so they can have the quality of life they want.’
As a gerontology nurse Elly likes the challenge of improving or reversing conditions and finding ways for people to retain their independence and improve their quality of life. ‘A significant part of what I do is finding out what’s important to people. What’s important clinically is often not that important to the client; if they’ve got a problem that means they can’t hang out their washing then we focus on that. The solution has to be patient-centric. There’s a real need to provide services to cope with the growing health needs of the older population. Early intervention prevents deterioration and improves quality of life as well as saving health dollars long term.’
Having a family and working full time, while working towards a Master’s degree, has been quite a juggling act at times but Elly says it’s one that has its rewards. ‘I believe in the value of postgraduate education, it helps to further where nurses sit within the spectrum of health care service provision and expands the scope of what we can do.’
‘The role requires a collaborative approach that includes family members as much as possible and GPs, and often there are other services the client can be linked in to. Of course each step is only taken if it fits with what the client wants.’