Palliative care nurse recognised for excellence in Aboriginal health

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Palliative care nurse recognised for excellence in Aboriginal health

Palliative care nurse, Charlotte Coulson.

Palliative care nurse Charlotte Coulson is one of 33 nurses and midwives to be chosen as a finalist for the 2017 WA Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards, to be announced in May.

In October last year, Palliative Matters reported on Ms Coulson’s work, delivering culturally appropriate care to Aboriginal people in the Kimberley. The fifth-generation nurse explained she moved from London to work in Wyndham and then Broome. Of the five years she worked in the Kimberley, three focused on improving palliative care access for people with end-stage kidney disease.

Ms Coulson credited her employer, Kimberley Renal Service, as being “exceptionally innovative”, and said she was one of very few palliative-care-trained nurses working for an Australian renal service.

Ms Coulson is one of three finalists recognised by the WA awards for ‘Excellence in Aboriginal health’.

She was nominated for the award by Natalie Panizza, a nurse practitioner working in palliative care at Royal Perth Hospital who describes her as “a really calm but vibrant person”.

Ms Panizza said she had insights into Ms Coulson’s professional life, having worked as a colleague and served as a clinical mentor while Ms Coulson studied a Master of Clinical Nursing specialising in palliative care.

“The thing that strikes me about Charlotte is that she has such a good, holistic view of health for Aboriginal people. She thought of all the aspects of their life that impacted on their health, like their physical environment, maintaining dignity and keeping their self-esteem, while providing an excellent service.”

Ms Coulson was also skilled in “thinking outside the box”, in identifying the right people to connect with in bigger metropolitan hospitals, in order to bring new services to remote communities.

“If everyone is working together, it benefits the patients, supporting them to live as well as they can, hopefully in the community where they want to be.”

She said she enjoyed working with Ms Coulson, as she was funny, laid back, and skilled at building a natural rapport with Aboriginal patients.

“I remember the first time I was working with her she said, ‘Don’t stress too much if you don’t get too much out of the first [patient] visit. Just find a way to relate to them so they feel comfortable to relate to you. You might just sit on the verandah and talk about how nice Broome is and then go from there’.”

Ms Coulson she was surprised to have been nominated for the award and named as a finalist.

“It is so exciting,” she told Palliative Matters.

“I’m really pleased for the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service because it highlights the great care they are providing. I couldn’t have done it on my own; it would not have been possible without them.”

Earlier this year Ms Coulson started work in Victoria as a clinical nurse consultant for Bendigo Health Community Palliative Care Service.

Award winners will be announced at a gala ball on 6 May.