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May 12, 2023

Celebrating our nurses: A Specialist Supported Living story


Today is International Nurses Day and to celebrate, we spent some time with one of our nursing teams at Swift Parrot Close in Kellyville.

Swift Parrot is a Specialist Supported Living (SSL) property staffed by nurses providing 24/7 support to four of our customers who have complex medical needs. Recently, we spoke with nurses Diana, Chris, Anjila, Vivek, Poh, Imelda and Sherlyn about the support they provide the Swift Parrot residents, and they shared an incredible account of the support they have provided Kim, a resident on palliative care.

Meet Kim

Kim was a resident of a Supported Independent Living (SIL) home in Carlingford. He moved into the care of the nursing team in September last year after being discharged from months of care in the hospital for aspiration pneumonia, a life-threatening occurrence which can happen when food or liquid is breathed into the airway or lungs.
“I think it was his brothers wish too that he didn’t die in a hospital. But he couldn’t go back to his previous group home because the doctor from the hospital and his palliative team recommended that he live under a nursing model with staff that can look after his needs,” says Sherlyn, Nurse Unit Manager at Swift Parrot.

The nursing team reported that the day Kim was brought in by patient transport from the hospital, he looked palliative. “He looked skinny, his lips were dry and cracked, he was dirty and unshaved,” says Sherlyn. The team were told Kim had 2 weeks left to live and that because of late-stage dementia, he was nonverbal and refusing food and personal care. “His mouth and tongue were coated with stains and his hair was long. Sam and Imelda were on shift at the time, and they changed his clothes, shaved him, cleaned his mouth and fed him slowly. Within a week he started talking. I took him outside in his wheelchair to see the neighbourhood and was chatting to him and he just started answering,” says Sherlyn.

Using humour to communicate

The team at Swift Parrot share that the way they communicate with the residents and having a shared sense of humour goes a long way with making residents like Kim feel at home.
“This morning when I was cleaning his mouth, I said Kim, look at your mouth, it’s so dirty, I’ve got to clean it. If your mouth is so dirty, how are you going to kiss Rosemary? (Kim’s housemate) And then he let me clean his mouth. Then I said oh you look gorgeous now,” says Anjila.

“With us, even if a customer is non-verbal we still talk to them. So, we’re used to talking to customers even with no response, we still communicate. That’s why we’re quite amazed actually that Kim says quite a lot of words,” says Sherlyn.
“Some of Kim’s standard responses are Go away and shut uuup! it makes us laugh,” says Chris.

It’s now May and the nursing team at Swift Parrot have been supporting Kim for over 8 months. Not only has Kim stayed out of the hospital, but he has exceeded expectations in terms of his cooperation with care and communication.

Sherlyn praises the team for the care and persistence that the Swift Parrot team bring to their work every day. “I think we’ve done very well. That’s the only thing we can do for them really. If we look after them, make sure they’re well-nourished and hydrated, then the customers are happy.”

We thank all our nursing staff for the hard work, dedication and care they provide to our customers. We couldn’t do our work without you all!

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Interested in learning more about Northcott’s disability nurses? Check our story with Enrolled Nurse Leilani.

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