Lorraine Barker’s approach to work has always valued care above all else.
The newest nurse practitioner in St. Anthony says a client must feel cared for, “from the moment they enter our service to the time they leave.”
She believes for nurses, that’s the most rewarding part of the job.
Barker says it’s about the relationship you form with the person and by caring for them, you receive care in return.
“It’s not about seeing someone for five minutes, it’s about forming that relationship with that person, seeing them as a spiritual being, a social being, a physical being, a mental and a religious being,” she told The Northern Pen at her office in St. Anthony. “We see a patient holistically. We want to care for all of that person.”
Barker assumed her position at Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital in October 2018.
Three months into her new job, she has grown so fond of the place and her new role that she hopes she can continue to provide care in St. Anthony until she retires a decade from now.
“I love the Northern Peninsula,” she said.
Barker grew up in Newfoundland and she can remember travelling to various outports throughout the province, including along the Great Northern Peninsula.
“I can remember, as a girl, coming up into St. Anthony and all the different outports, travelling in the boats, seeing whales,” she said. “That’s kind of my love — the water. Hopefully I’ll build a house and retire here.”
After working as a nurse around the country and beginning her practice as a nurse practitioner in 2011, Barker returned to her home province in 2017.
She had accepted a position in Postville, Labrador, where she was the only nurse.
Meanwhile, in St. Anthony, there had been vacancy for a nurse practitioner for a couple of years.
Home first initiative
According to Antoinette Cabot, regional director of Population Health, Ambulatory Care and Paramedicine, Baker’s arrival allowed the hospital to implement a model of care delivery to support the “home first initiative.”
“It’s a different model from what they’ve ever had before,” Barker said.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, her main focus is geriatrics. She does on-site visitations, seeing homecare clients (by request), clients at the John M. Gray (long-term and continuing care facility), Shirley’s Haven Personal Care Home, and palliative clients.
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, she sees patients.
Barker says she enjoys the challenge of caring for the elderly, who face more complex health matters.
At the dementia unit at the John M. Gray, Barker, who has a sub-specialty in geriatric psychiatry, says the staff has worked on integrating a “gentle care philosophy.”
So far, she’s had the hallways brightened, having painted different scenes including, for instance, the Jellybean Row houses.
Furthermore, they engage clients through conversation and do activities with them to refine their fine motor skills, gross motor skills and eye-hand coordination.
Puzzles can be used for this purpose.
“We’re really focusing on brain health, not medication,” she said. “Through a nursing lens, it’s not about curing, it’s about caring.”
Through her overall practice, Barker also provides counselling and addictions counselling.
Per the Canadian Nurses Association, “nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have additional education and nursing experience, which enables them to: autonomously diagnose and treat illnesses; order and interpret tests; prescribe medications; perform medical procedures.”