The first of its kind in NSW, Northcott Disability Services has launched a new Hospital Management Plan for adults with spina bifida. This comes in time for the start of Spina Bifida Awareness Week, which falls on the 1st to the 7th of September.
This innovative plan was developed by Northcott’s Spina Bifida Adult Resource Team (SBART), which was established by NSW Health two years ago after recognising a gap in service provision for adults with spina bifida. This new plan details best practice guidelines, including recommendations for treatment should an adult with spina bifida present to hospital with certain symptoms.
“Spina bifida is a complex condition and may not be as well-recognised as commonly treated conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Northcott have developed best practice guidelines to aid in the effective assessment and management of adults with spina bifida while in hospital. To summarise these guidelines, a Hospital Management Plan was developed. This one page education tool offers recommendations to make it easier for clinicians to make effective and accurate decisions regarding care,” said Joanne Brady, Team Leader of Northcott’s SBART program.
Spina bifida is the most common and complex congenital condition affecting the development of the brain and the spinal cord in developed countries. Due to medical advancements from the early 1960’s, such as the introduction of the shunt, it is estimated that there are currently many hundreds of adults living with spina bifida today. These patients have multifaceted health care needs, including mobility issues, sensory deficits in the lower limbs, neurogenic bladder and bowel, and hydrocephalus, which in 80-90% of cases requires a shunt.
The new Hospital Management Plan, encapsulates all adults with spina bifida, including those transitioning from paediatric services. It aims to ensure that all patients experience effective and holistic care, from presentation to hospital right through to discharge.
The state-wide resource is currently being rolled out by Northcott via clinicians in NSW Health, mail outs to GPs, hospitals and community services.
Northcott is the leading organisation in NSW to run Spina Bifida Awareness Week, which occurs annually from the 1st to the 7th of September. In conjunction with event sponsors Bayer HealthCare, the week aims to celebrate the achievements of people living with spina bifida, and promote health messages, services and resources available like the new Hospital Management Plan.
There is no cure for spina bifida, but up to 70 percent of cases can be prevented by increasing the intake of B-vitamin folic acid at least one month before conception and during the first three months of pregnancy. Folate can be found in a great range of natural foods which include spinach, oranges, raspberries, peanuts and avocado.
There are also vitamin and mineral supplements available for pregnancy, like Elevit with Iodine. A once-daily supplement available in pharmacies across Australia, Elevit with Iodine has a higher level of folic acid, iron and iodine in combination than most other multivitamin supplements used for pregnancy.