Addiction nurses and disability nurses were recently welcomed into Te Ao Māramatanga – New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses with the launch of two new national branches.

College president Suzette Poole and kaiwhakahaere Chrissy Kake said it had welcomed the opportunity to  “support addiction and disability nurses to have a voice, continue to work in partnership and promote excellence in addiction and disability nursing practice”.

The pair said mental health nursing practice needed to be flexible and mental health nurses would often find they are supporting people with addiction needs and/or people who have a disability.

“The College also understands that nurses working in isolated specialty practice areas may find it hard to connect and advocate collectively for change.”

Addiction nurse practitioner Louise Leonard, the chair of the new National Addiction Nurses Branch, said addiction touched all areas of health and addiction nurses believed that addiction was in fact “every nurse’s business”.

“Therefore we welcome the opportunity to be able to work together with the college to be a strong New Zealand voice for addiction nursing, advocating for those whose lives are impacted by alcohol and other drug issues.”

She said workforce development would continue to be a key focus for the branch – building on the platform established with the Addiction Specialty Nursing Competency framework. The new addiction branch comes with the support of the Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia (DANA).

Henrietta Trip, chair of the new National Disability Nurses Branch, said the branch was an important development as many nurses continue to work alongside, and for, people with a wide range of intellectual, physical and other disabilities in a range of community, education and healthcare settings.

“There is little recognition that disability nursing continues to be a specialty responding to a population whose longevity is increasing and who also experience a range of complex co-morbid conditions that affect their physical and mental wellbeing,” said Trip.

She said disability nurses facilitated healthcare education and access across community, health and disability services and worked with a range of individuals and health professionals to optimise the healthcare outcomes for their clients.


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