Parkinson’s learning module aims to enhance nursing care


Parkinson Canada has just launched its latest online learning module, especially designed to help nurses learn how to assist patients in managing their Parkinson’s symptoms at every stage of the disease. We encourage people living with Parkinson’s and their care partners to share this news with their health care team, especially nurses at their family doctor’s office, in long-term care facilities or at movement disorder clinics.

“Parkinson’s is a complex neurological disease and is best treated by a team of health care professionals,” says Grace Ferrari, Senior Manager, Education & Support, for Parkinson Canada.  “Nurses have a great deal of interaction with patients, so they can offer meaningful tips on managing medication and the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease to get the best results,  reduce the impact of any side effects, and improve quality of life.”

The module Parkinson’s Disease: From Diagnosis to Advanced Stage Disease is accredited* by the Continuing Nursing Professional Education (CNPE) office in the Ingram School of Nursing at McGill University and focuses on nursing care strategies for all stages of Parkinson’s. In the early stage, nurses should be aware of the priorities at the time of diagnosis. As the disease progresses, symptoms have an increasing impact and nurses need to be able to make a clinical assessment of non-motor symptoms, motor fluctuations and medication timing.

Case scenarios highlight the changing role of the nurse in the ongoing care of a Parkinson’s patient with a focus on cognitive impairment and the involvement of the interdisciplinary team in creating a comprehensive treatment plan.

After completing the module, nurses will be able to:

  • Identify and understand the clinical symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
  • Conduct appropriate nursing assessments and interventions
  • Apply theory to clinical practice and understand and appreciate how the nurse’s role complements the interdisciplinary care team
  • And, neuroscience nurses will be able to build capacity for comprehensive inter-professional care in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Two of the module’s developers from the Montreal Neurological Institute Lucie Lachance RN, MSc., Clinical Nurse Specialist and Jennifer Doran, BN, CNN(C), Nurse Clinician,  delivered much of the module’s content for a Parkinson Canada workshop at the 2015 Canadian Association of Neuroscience Nurses conference. Positive reaction to the workshop confirmed the demand for more training and led to the development of a Parkinson Canada online learning module for all nurses.

“This learning opportunity definitely fills a knowledge gap in nursing, especially among nurses who are not working in neurology,” says Gigi van den Hoef, RN, nursing consultant and a member of Parkinson Canada’s Medical Advisory Committee. “And with the aging population, and the increasing incidence of the disease, more nurses are going to be caring for patients with Parkinson’s.”

Simply learning the language of Parkinson’s can be daunting for patients and their families, says van den Hoef: dystonia, rigidity, dyskinesia. Nurses have a role to play as educators and in helping patients navigate their new reality of living with Parkinson’s.

Gigi van den Hoef will be helping to get the word out to nursing organizations across the country. “The bottom line is that we want to help enhance nursing care for all Canadians living with Parkinson’s,” she says.

Nurses can register for the online learning module by completing the online registration form. The fee of $40 includes the cost of issuing a certificate and provides funds to develop other Parkinson Canada education resources and to fund research.

* Accreditation of the learning module
This event meets the criteria for accreditation established by the Continuing Nursing Professional Education (CNPE) office in the Ingram School of Nursing at McGill University and is approved for a maximum of 2 hours of accredited continuing professional education. The CNPE office is endorsed by the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) office in the Faculty of Medicine.