An audit of deaths from Covid-19 between Jan 1st 2021- Feb 28th 2021 in Plymouth, from a Parkinson’s Disease Specialist nurse caseload, and the impact on the mental health of that nurse.
For my project, I looked at deaths on my caseload from Covid-19 in a 2 month period at the start of 2021. I was interested to see if it the characteristics of worldwide Covid-19 deaths in people with Parkinson’s disease correlated to the deaths in my area in Plymouth, UK.
The main characteristics that increased mortality in people with Parkinson’s from Covid-19 was:
Advanced Stage of Parkinson’s
Diagnosis of dementia
Indeed, the 5 deaths that I examined on my caseload, shared all the characteristics found in the international studies that I referenced. All were male patients and all died in hospital, all bar one man, whose family asked if he could be transferred from the hospital to die at home. The others, by all accounts, deteriorating very fast once admitted to hospital and their family felt that the person was far too ill to come home to be looked after. 2 of the patients lived in a Nursing Home, and 3 lived at Home with their wives. 4 patients had a care package, 1 patient had his care supported by his wife. All patients had apparently not left their home since March 2020, which leads me to conclude that the virus was brought into the Home by external means (carers or family).
I also had a deep dive into my own feelings around these deaths, as I could feel that as each patient on my caseload died, I was becoming more emotional. I knew all the patients well, and also their spouses. I spoke with each wife on the phone after their loved one died. Although, I was glad to have had the conversation with the wives, it affected me deeply afterwards. At the beginning of the year, my only colleague in the team went off long term sick, which effectively also doubled my caseload and stopped my immediate source of professional support. I was also based from home so human contact with the wider team was limited.
The audit into the patient’s death reinforced that when visiting patients, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was still very much needed to be worn on home visits, along with regular testing for Covid-19 for professionals and care givers.
In terms of my mental health, it did improve with increased contact with others by volunteering at the local PCR testing clinic. It also improved with recognising there was a problem and reaching out to my manager. Moving forwards, I would like to look further into the mental health of other Parkinson’s nurses during the pandemic and explore whether my feelings of social isolation and sadness during this pandemic were isolated to me, or whether there is a wider issue that requires acknowledgement and attention.
More Parkinson's Academy COVID-19 Projects
'The things you can't get from the books'
Parkinson's Academy, our original and longest running Academy, houses 20 years of inspirational projects, resources, and evidence for improving outcomes for people with Parkinson's. Led by co-founder and educational director Dr Peter Fletcher, the Academy has a truly collegiate feel and prides itself on delivering 'the things you can't get from books' - a practical learning model which inspires all Neurology Academy courses.