The impact of COVID-19 on the delivery of care by Australian primary health care nurses
Health and Social Care in the Community
This qualitative study describes the impact of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on the provision of care by Australian primary health care (PHC) nurses. Participants were purposefully recruited following completion of a national survey about PHC nurses’ experiences during the pandemic. Twenty-five semi-structured interviews were conducted by two experienced researchers and professionally transcribed. The mean duration of interviews was 38.5 min. Thematic analysis revealed three themes about the impact of COVID-19 on PHC nurses’ provision of care. These were: workplace adjustments, changes in healthcare delivery and concerns about long-term health impacts of COVID-19. The sudden disruption and de-stabilisation of care delivery was reported as significantly impacting on initial service provision, although participants reported adapting quickly and finding new ways to deliver care. The impact of the pandemic on high risk communities and mental health support needs of clients created additional challenges, although some participants reported positive outcomes such as increased confidence of some clients to provide self-care. There were concerns about the potential long-term health impact on communities due to reduced levels of cancer screening, disrupted management of chronic conditions and reduced opportunistic health assessments. Findings from this study demonstrated how PHC nurses played an important role in the continued provision of PHC by adapting quickly to changed circumstances, adjusting and modifying clinical activities, and by monitoring for future potential negative outcomes from the pandemic. These findings are important for the future management of pandemics and inform the long-term planning of PHC services.
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Australian College of Nursing