Continuing care provincial manager Angela Meagher and her team of nurses visit patients at home because ‘everyone deserves care, regardless of where they live’

Angela Meagher is NSHA’s provincial manager of continuing care (Contributed).
Angela Meagher is NSHA’s provincial manager of continuing care (Contributed).

Angela Meagher grew up in Havre Boucher, graduated from university in Antigonish and found her passion for community nursing in Port Hawkesbury – combining her love for work with her love for community.

“I chose community care for the different approach. It’s being able to support the client in their own environment,” said Meagher, who started her role as Nova Scotia Health Authority’s provincial manager of continuing care nursing just over two years ago.

“When you walk into a patient’s hospital room, they are wearing a hospital gown; they have little personal belongings and you know very little about them, versus going into their home and experiencing how they live,” Meagher said.

When you visit a patient in their own home, “you see the everyday challenges for them, whether it’s obtaining food or saving enough money for groceries or the electric bill.”

Community nursing, she explained, is “all about spending that one-on-one time with them, seeing how they live, building a trusting relationship and bringing the people that they call family in so that they can be involved in their care, too.”

Across the province, NSHA’s community nurses serve about 6,500 clients annually through 13 offices from Neils Harbour to Sheet Harbour. In total, these nurses provide four per cent of home care nursing services in Nova Scotia while VON provides 96 per cent.

The demand for community nursing has increased alongside the changing needs of patients, with more wanting to safely maintain their independence at home as long as possible, instead of moving into long-term care or choosing end-of-life care in hospital.

“From the time I was frontline nursing, to my role with continuing care today, I see how much the complexity of clients has changed over the last ten years,” said Meagher, who graduated from St. Francis Xavier University in 2005 and has been working as a registered nurse for nearly 15 years.

“In the past, it involved simpler tasks, such as tending to a basic wound. We now see clients with complex care needs who in the past would go to the hospital but are now supported at home and want to pass away at home.” 

NSHA’s community nursing team serves clients in both urban and rural areas across the province, travelling to areas where there “is no cell coverage or the nearest neighbor may live kilometres away,” to ensure they are well cared for where they live, she said.

“We’re driving over potholes, avoiding snowbanks, contacting the Department of Transportation to ensure that we can reach these complex clients by a certain time,” Meagher explained. “And it’s very rare that we can’t make it.”

October marks Continuing Care Month in Nova Scotia and this year’s theme is Your Home: Our Passion.

“The theme reflects the underlying message that every day in Nova Scotia, the people who work and volunteer in continuing care are making a remarkable difference in the lives of people of all ages who need care and support in their homes and communities,” according to the Health Association of Nova Scotia.

Meagher agrees that “our nurses take pride in what they do each day.”

“That’s the nature of rural community care,” she said. “Everyone deserves care, regardless of where they live.”

There may come a time when you or your loved one need help to remain as independent as possible at home and in the community. To learn more about home and community care services, please visit http://www.nshealth.ca/content/home-care-and-community-care-services.