The School of Nursing and Midwifery's researchers are investigating how to provide effective care across the human lifespan, and support healthcare workers in best practice.
Better care for mothers living with severe mental illness
Researchers have shown that women living with severe mental illness, and their babies, are at increased risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
“People living with severe mental illness are at greater risk of poor health outcomes than those without mental illness,” says lead researcher, Associate Professor Kristina Edvardsson (pictured above).
The findings show that these risks extend to pregnancy and childbirth: mothers living with severe mental illness were 83% more likely to be admitted to High Dependency or Intensive Care Units, and babies were 40% more likely to be born prematurely.
“We found that mothers living with severe mental illness had higher rates of risk factors for ill health including smoking, a high body mass index, living in a socially disadvantaged area and physical health comorbidities,” she says.
“We want to help close the health gap between pregnant women living with a severe mental illness, and those without. By improving the health and wellbeing of women living with severe mental illness before pregnancy, we can achieve better outcomes for both mother and baby.”
Supporting healthcare professionals
New research indicates a holistic approach could better support internationally qualified healthcare professionals to transition into their host country’s workforce.
“Healthcare professionals face multiple challenges when migrating, including unexpected cultural and professional expectations, orientation and accreditation,” says PhD candidate, Kolsoom Safari.
Unresolved hurdles in one stage can result in more challenges later in the transition.
Safari suggests that several approaches could assist: communicating expectations prior to migration, implementing culturally specific training upon arrival, improving accreditation and registration policies, and providing mentorship following employment.
“Addressing the challenges facing internationally qualified healthcare professionals could help them better adjust to their new workplace and host country.”
Effective home visits
Researchers have identified what home visiting nurses need to work effectively with women experiencing family violence.
The research team, led by Catina Adams, interviewed home visiting nurses and their managers to provide insight into the specialist practice.
“Maternal and child health nurses in this area need clinical nursing expertise, communication skills and an understanding of family violence,” says Adams. “Passion, authenticity and self-awareness are also important.”
Understanding what makes home visiting nurses effective will help managers to develop better position descriptions, identify nurses best suited for the role and provide targeted professional development for staff.
“Our ultimate goal is to better support women experiencing family violence,” says Adams.
Read the publication.
Family-centred emergency care
Researchers have identified how nurses enact family-centred care in the emergency department when a child dies.
Professor Lisa McKenna and Associate Professor Bev Copnell are part of a team that explored the perspective of nurses during paediatric emergencies.
Nurses reported that they used elements of family-centred care, including support and education for families, and encouraging the family’s involvement in medical decisions. Often, it was senior nurses who provided this support.
“Our findings highlight that emergency department nurses should receive education and support so they can better care for families during these difficult times,” says McKenna.
Read the article.
Child-Parent Psychotherapy program
Research has revealed that a Child-Parent Psychotherapy program can help to re-establish a positive mother-child relationship after trauma.
“Child-Parent Psychotherapy involves bringing the child and mother together for weekly therapy sessions, with the idea being that the mother-child relationship is central to the recovery of the child,” said lead researcher, Associate Professor Leesa Hooker.
The program increased parental warmth, improved child emotions and behaviours, and family violence appeared to decrease post intervention.
“The importance of this model is that it can be applied Australia-wide to intervene early and prevent long term impacts of family violence on children,” Associate Professor Hooker said.