Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Finding balance as an invited guest: Registered Nurses lived experience of providing home-based palliative care in rural communities

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Dr Lyn Rabbetts, RN, Grad Cert (PC), Grad Diploma Health(PC), Masters Degree(PC), PhD, Naracoorte Community News

Dr Lyn Rabbetts recently graduated at a ceremony held at the Convention Centre, Adelaide on 15 December 2023 hosted by the Flinders University after successfully completing her PhD in Palliative Care Nursing. Lyn’s thesis was titled, Finding Balance as an invited guest: Registered Nurses lived experience of providing home-based palliative care in rural communities.

Lyn’s background was working as a clinical nurse in palliative care in the upper Southeast area of the Limestone Coast for 17 years. Setting up this service in 1993 Lyn quickly realised that it was important to extend the support given to families caring for a terminally ill loved-one at home beyond the community of Naracoorte. Thus, she provided a consultative nursing service to generalist community nursing service and hospitals in Bordertown, Keith, Kingston, Robe and visited families living on surrounding farming properties. During this period of time Lyn undertook postgraduate study with Flinders University completing a graduate Certificate in Grief and Palliative Care Counselling, Graduate Certificate in Health and Masters degree of Palliative Care. Lyn was also actively involved in the Rural Palliative Care Group of SA, providing professional networking for all rural nurses working in specialist palliative care services throughout South Australia. Lyn served as secretary, chairperson, and treasurer for a number of years and was involved and was part of the committee that hosted a number of biennial state conferences.

Lyn transitioned to academic work at the regional campus of the University of South Australia at Mount Gambier in 2011. Lecturing in the Bachelor of Nursing degree evoked Lyn’s interest in pursing research in the realm of palliative care nursing. Initially Lyn completed a small research study in the region implementing a set of clinical assessment tools for generalist nurses to use to assist in the care of palliative care patients. Then Lyn identified the need to explore the experiences of other Registered Nurses involved in home-based palliative care. A search of peer reviewed literature confirmed there was little published evidence about this specialist work, its challenges and rewards.

Lyn commenced her PhD study in 2015 with the Flinders University on a part time basis. Associate Professor Ann Harrington, and Dr Katrina Breaden supervised Lyn’s research study. An eight-year study took place with Lyn travelling South Australia interviewing 16 Registered Nurses from various Community Health Services. The willingness of the nurses to share their experiences yielded a vast amount of data that was then analysed using a scientific evidence-base method of analysis. This comprehensive analysis was written up into a thesis using a phenomenological methodology.

Now the thesis is completed Lyn continues to write for publication for international nursing journals and seeking opportunities to present the findings at nursing conferences and educational forums to further disseminate the findings. Lyn plans to partner with a non government organisation to develop some resources to support all nurses providing home-based palliative care in Australia.

Lyn, with her husband Colin, moved to retire in Victor Harbour in May 2023. They welcome living closer to immediate and extended family and settling into a new community. Lyn is deeply appreciative of the community of Naracoorte and others in the upper Southeast for the opportunities afforded to her to realise her passion of caring for people, welcoming her into their homes during the time of caring for their loved-one facing a life-limiting illness. A journey of immense reward, honour, and privilege: experiences echoed by the nurses who participated in her PhD study.

The Naracoorte News 21 February 2024

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.

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