16th May 2023

MS Nurses: Care and Connections

2023 MS Connections
MS Nurses from Australia pictured side by side.

MS organisations across the globe use World MS Day as a platform to campaign on big issues facing people with MS in their country. This World MS Day, MS Australia is using the MS Connections campaign to advocate for MS Nurses. We asked MS Australia’s CEO, Rohan Greenland, to tell us more.

MS Nurses support people living with MS from the time of diagnosis and help to connect them to expert care, education, and support.

When looking at the incredible benefits MS Nurses provide and the breadth of their contribution to mental and physical health in MS, it’s easy to see how they embody the World MS Day 2020-2023 theme of ‘connections’.

The MS Nurse Care in Australia Report showed that people with MS who had access to an MS Nurse experienced slower disease progression, lower levels of disability, less severe symptoms, and a higher quality of life.

MS Nurses are a connection to empowerment for people living with MS, through informed and shared decision-making about treatment, lifestyle, and research choices.

Many people with MS develop a long-term partnership with their MS Nurse, as they humanise the medical world and help them understand the complex nature of managing MS, maintain social connections and ensure the focus remains on the individual throughout their MS journey.

Lynda, who lives with MS, spoke about her MS Nurse and the benefits she has gained from the relationship. 

“I feel so fortunate to have travelled my 15-year MS journey with an MS nurse by my side. This has relieved my anxiety around relapses and minimised hospital admissions.

“Just knowing I can contact my Nurse by phone, email or in person gives me a sense of security and support, especially since they have travelled my journey and understand.”

MS Nurses can support people living with MS from the time of diagnosis.

Economical care

MS Nurse care is not only highly cost-effective – it’s what economists call ‘cost dominant’. In other words, it is in that rare category of actually saving money, all while alleviating pressure on our already-stressed healthcare system.

MS Nurses connect patients to optimal management of their MS, assisting them to access medications and therapies and to engage in holistic wellbeing programs.

This helps reduce the need to see other, more costly health professionals — such as GPs and neurologists — and helps avoid unplanned emergency department presentations and unplanned hospital admissions.

By supporting people with MS to focus on their wellbeing, MS Nurses support people with MS to live happier, healthier, and more productive lives.

MS Nurse crisis

Despite the many health and economic advantages MS Nurses provide, there remains an MS Nurse crisis in Australia, like in many parts of the world.

There are far too few MS Nurses and, consequently, too few people who can access the benefits of MS Nurse Care.

Due to insufficient long-term funding for MS Nurses in Australia, the workforce is declining and existing nurses are stretched across an increasingly larger number of patients.

Considering the recent acceleration in the number of people living with MS in Australia to over 33,300, this issue will continue to worsen unless meaningful action is taken soon.

The MS workforce is declining in Australia despite the support they provide people with MS.

World MS Day 2023 in Australia

MS Australia will use the global platform of World MS Day to highlight the many benefits of MS Nurses and bring greater attention to the MS Nurse crisis in Australia.

We are holding our Parliamentary Friends of MS event to mark World MS Day at the Parliament House of Australia.

These powerful forums allow connection and interaction with politicians and key decision-makers to raise awareness of the needs of people living with MS.

We are honoured to have Ged Kearney, the Assistant Health Minister and former nurse, as our keynote speaker at the event. She has also been working closely with us to find practical solutions to the MS Nurse crisis.

This year we will call for greater investment in the MS Nurse workforce so that every person living with MS can have access to an MS Nurse.

We’ll also join with our state and territory Member Organisations to amplify efforts to raise awareness of MS Nurses nationwide through events and across our communication channels.

And, of course, MS Australia will connect with our many friends in the MS global community to celebrate MS Nurses and the MS Connections campaign worldwide.

Our thanks to MS Australia and its CEO, Rohan Greenland, for this article.

Related news

25th July 2023

The global MS community went above and beyond this World MS Day. It was the final year of the MS…

23rd May 2023

In 2020 World MS Day began a very special musical initiative to bring people affected by MS together – the…

27th April 2023

This year we are running the first international art competition for World MS Day. Participants are invited to express their…