Shannon Odo (LPN), embraces new team approach to support Continuing Care clients
Nova Scotia Health Continuing Care works with its partners in the community (e.g., the Victoria Order of Nurses (VON) and Nova Scotia Health Continuing Care nursing team) to provide services to help Nova Scotians live well at home or to return home following a hospital stay.
When possible, home is the best place to support a person’s recovery. Being in a familiar and comfortable environment can promote activity, independence and more positive health outcomes.
Continuing Care’s “home first” philosophy is the cornerstone for its Nursing Only Authorization Team (NOAT) approach. Nova Scotia Health’s Eastern Zone (Cape Breton Island and Antigonish and Guysborough counties) is the latest area of the province to implement NOAT service in May 2023.
Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone (Halifax Regional Municipality) implemented the NOAT model in 2010 and Western Zone (Annapolis Valley, South Shore and Southwest) in 2015. It is anticipated that the model will soon be adopted by Northern Zone (Cumberland, Colchester, East Hants), which will mean a standardized approach across the province.
NOAT supports individuals that require only nursing support and typically have less complex and shorter-term health care needs such as wound care, medication management and IV antibiotics. All authorizations for urgent nursing referrals/orders (nursing service required within 24 hours) received from the community (e.g., physician offices) are now authorized by NOAT’s Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs).
Each day NOAT LPNs process orders that come into the Continuing Care office from physicians and nurse practitioners for nursing care. This involves verifying a person’s history and current services, connecting with pharmacies to have medications prepared, authorizing nursing providers in the community to provide the care to the client and speaking with client’s and families about their services.
Prior to the introduction of the NOAT model, Continuing Care’s care coordinators (e.g., registered nurses, social workers, physio therapists, occupational therapists and dieticians) authorized services for all clients, including those requiring nursing care only. LPNs are now overseeing Nursing Only clients rather than the more traditional approach of having different disciplines managing these clients’ health care needs. Care coordinators are now able to focus on individuals with more extensive and complex support needs.
Shannon Odo, an experienced LPN with 14 years’ experience in health care is the team lead for the Eastern Zone NOAT. Based in Sydney, on the shores of northeastern Cape Breton Island about 17 km east of New Waterford, the five-person team of LPNs is responsible for 887 individuals across Eastern Zone that they connect with by phone. “The work we do gives Nova Scotians the opportunity to stay at home, safely, as long as possible”, says Odo.
For Shannon, being part of a team that supports Nova Scotians to remain in the home they love is very meaningful. Raised in a military family, she lived in many places before the family settled in New Waterford when she was in her teens, giving Shannon the opportunity to plant some roots. Now a married mother of three, and two beagles named Archie and Jack, Shannon continues to live in New Waterford with her family. During the summer, they make the most of their prime location in Canada’s Ocean Playground by camping and spending time at the many amazing beaches nearby.
The NOAT approach has proven to be an efficient way to support continuing care client needs by optimizing team member roles and using resources effectively. For example, some clients don’t need to remain in hospital for services that can be delivered safely at home. NOAT supports patient flow in hospitals, frees up beds for other patients and, most importantly, gets people home faster.
“I feel the NOAT team benefits our Eastern zone community by keeping our clients home and out of the hospital”, explains Odo. “If they can have their nursing services provided by a nurse at a local clinic or in their home, it’s a win win for the client and for Nova Scotia Health.”