Mark Longworth manages the New South Wales (NSW) Agency for Clinical Innovation’s Stroke Network. In his guest blog, he highlights the successful implementation of stroke focused educational programs in rural and remote areas of NSW, which have in turn increased awareness and ensured a significant growth in better stroke services in the region.
Since 2005, Stroke Services New South Wales (SSNSW), a network of the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) has achieved significant milestones in stroke education across rural NSW.
Following a request for more stroke education from a rural clinician, a trial educational program was endorsed by allied health and nursing clinicians, from the Educational and Professional Development Working Party of SSNSW.
Once the program was implemented, we ran a series of post consultation education sessions with clinicians in Wagga, Lithgow and Coffs Harbour, which were measured against best practices in stroke management used by allied health, medical and nursing staff.
The evaluations indicated that a statewide education program based on the National Stroke Foundations 2003 Acute Stroke Management guidelines was very much needed by clinician’s in the rural and remote communities.
Based on these findings in 2006 we implemented ten hands on education programs in, Lismore, Tamworth, Dubbo, Orange, Wagga, Nowra, Port Macquarie, Broken Hill, Coffs Harbour and Cooma.
Due to the success of previous sessions, 2007 saw four sessions, utilising the evaluation recommendations and the National Stroke Foundations 2007 Clinical Guidelines for Acute Stroke Management, held in Ballina, Armidale, Griffith and Dubbo.
To support the education process since 2007 there has been 25 educational evenings undertaken that have engaged with General Practitioners, Divisions of General Practice, hospital and community pharmacists to maintain the knowledge of clinicians in the delivery of best practice stroke management .
Since then, we have also appointed eight rural stroke care coordinators, who offer continued support and development in rural education.
As we are always looking for new opportunities to develop our initiatives, in March 2010 we set new benchmarks for attracting clinicians to education sessions across NSW, with some brilliant results.
In Dubbo, we held a three day series of specific and general education sessions of which we had 200 clinicians attended.
During this time 44 General Practitioners, pharmacists and health administrators attended the evening education session.
In Coffs Harbour, to coincide with the opening of the Stroke Unit at Coffs Harbour Base Hospital, 100 clinicians attended the general session and 65 General Practitioners, pharmacists and health administrators attended the evening education.
NSW is now seeing a clinician critical mass, that is driving the how, why and when of the delivery of best practice stroke care to stroke patients and their carers in rural and remote NSW.
* The education programs mentioned above were lead by clinicians from SSNSW and whilst all have contributed special mention is made of Craig Harris, Melissa Gill, Louise Jordan, Cathie Crow, Cate Ferry and the thousands of clinicians who have attended the sessions since 2005.