As most of you already know, Ireland has one neurologist per
350,000 people, about one-third of the accepted minimum, and the
lowest number of neurologists per head of the population in Europe!
Many other countries now have "Multidisciplinary Care Teams",
which usually consist of the following: neurologist, Parkinson's
nurse specialist, physiotherapist, speech and occupational therapist
and psychologist, who as a team provide care and support to the
people with PD. This concept is called "Co-ordinated Care in the
Community". It has been found that the use of multidisciplinary
care teams leads to an enormous increase in the quality of life
for the patient. It also reduces the number of times a patient
has to be admitted to hospital.
For instance, a patient may be taken into hospital for drug
adjustment, or to be started on a new drug. This is unsettling
for the patient, but if there is a Parkinson's nurse specialist
available, the adjustments may be made at home - a financial saving
for the state and an emotional saving for the patient and his family!
A PDNS receives specialised training to enable him/her to maximise
each patient's condition on an individual basis.
A Parkinson's Disease Nurse Specialist (PDNS) liases between the
specialist and the GP or other therapists on the patient's behalf,
informs the patient about PD, evaluates him/her in the home
environment, educates partners about their roles, and informs
the public about PD.
There are now 70 Parkinson's Disease Nurse Specialists in Britain,
one in Northern Ireland with another to be appointed in the near
future. Initially the PDS paid their salaries, and still do in some
cases. What seems to happen in England is that the local Health Board takes a
year or two to evaluate the new contribution to treatment for PD,
and, in most cases, funds or part-funds them
So it means fundraising or obtaining sponsorship for the first year
Which leads to the present. Brian Magennis, David's son, is a
qualified nurse working in Galway. On his own initiative, he has
enrolled in a degree-level Parkinson's Disease Nurse Specialist
course in the University of Plymouth, taking unpaid leave from his
job. He has completed the first leg consisting of an intensive series
of lectures along with practical sessions with patients. He has now
returned to Galway, where, as part of this course, he is undertaking
a clinical study. In May, he will return to Plymouth for the final
series of lectures.
Therefore, in late June or early July, Ireland will have its first qualified Parkinson's
Disease Nurse Specialist! A number of our neurologists have expressed
a keen interest in having Brian work with them. Brian has a great
wealth of practical experience with PD through his Dad, and has
returned from the first leg of his course full of enthusiasm and
new ideas and insights!