A recent survey sent out to all nurses across the Peter Munk Cardiac set the wheels in motion. It asked them whether an education session focused entirely on caring for adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) patients was of interest. The response? A unanimous yes.
"There are actually more adults living with congenital heart disease than there are children," says Barbara Bailey, Nurse Practitioner, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC), and one of the organizers of the first Adult Congenital Heart Disease Nursing Education Day being held tomorrow.
"This is kind of a new frontier in terms of this patient population," she says. "People are living longer with congenital heart disease and patients are developing issues that we couldn't have predicted, and we are having to manage that.
"So there is definitely increased healthcare demands that we weren't necessarily prepared for but we are facing together to help this population."
The half-day session will feature speakers from The Hospital for Sick Children and the PMCC, covering topics including post-operative care, medications, ACHD surgical procedures and patients lost to follow-up.
"There are three main challenges for patients with adult congenital heart disease," says Shereli Soldevilla, Nurse Practitioner, a new addition to the congenital heart disease team at PMCC and one of the organizers of the session.
"One is the medical challenge," she says. "This population has a complex cardiac anatomy, they have long cardiac histories as well as surgical histories, so that's a challenge.
"The second is psycho-social needs that they have. I feel that we are there to identify or to share with them their illness experience.
"And the third challenge is behavioural. We need to pay attention to their health behaviour, their knowledge because they need to learn to manage their disease to some extent."
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