Educating patients about ‘leaky legs’ leads to award

17 Oct 2017 | Building Leadership & Capability

A project to help patients in the community understand their ‘leaky legs’ has seen a Wairarapa DHB community health nurse become the latest recipient of the Open for leadership awards.

Angelene Williams received her award today from Health Quality & Safety Commission chief executive Dr Janice Wilson for her work developing an educational pamphlet for her patients.

‘Leaky legs’ is a colloquial term given to lower-limb lymphovenous disease and lymphorrhoea, a condition where fluid leaks from swollen legs, where fluid buildup causes the swelling.

‘I noticed there was an amount of stress among these patients, which affecting their quality of life. I just thought how can we improve this,’ says Mrs Williams.

‘I designed the pamphlet as well as integrating a long-term review model so we now assess these patients every few months.’

She says the pamphlet helps patients self-care in between visits from their nurse, and it improves their health literacy by enabling patients and their families to better understand their condition.

The pamphlet contains a range of information for patients including how to elevate their legs and what foods to eat.

‘I recently visited one of these patients and she recognised that I was the person who created the form. We were then able to talk about how much extra protein she needed to improve, including via supplements, in a very engaged way. She seemed to be very interested and understood a lot more as a result of the pamphlet,’ says Mrs Williams.

‘Patients need this kind of education and support. If they aren’t on board and aware of how to improve their health, they are unlikely to improve, so the pamphlet helps them know what to do and how to do it,’ she says.

The Open for leadership awards are coordinated by the Commission. They recognise and celebrate health professionals who demonstrate excellent practice, quality improvement and leadership skills. They are part of the Commission’s work to build capability and leadership in the health sector.

‘Mrs Williams has created a patient-centred educational project which will give those patients and their families a greater confidence in their ability to look after themselves,’ says Dr Wilson.

Mrs Williams was given a trophy by Dr Wilson and will be sponsored to attend a Commission event.

Read more about the Open for leadership awards here.

Last updated 17/10/2017