Increasing demand for specialist equipment

By Petrina Wright | Posted: Monday November 13, 2023

Enliven Southland has purchased much-needed specialist equipment designed to provide comfort to the most vulnerable patients in its care thanks to a trust’s generosity.

JBW McKenzie Trust gave Enliven a grant of $12,932.99 towards the purchase of four syringe drivers and lock boxes, used to administer continuous medication over an extended period of time.

Enliven director Carol Riddle said they were incredibly grateful for the donation.

“The trust should feel so proud to have funded such an important piece of equipment which will make a big difference in the lives of so many.

“Syringe drivers provide comfort and dignity to residents in their final days, as well as benefitting more able residents in need of pain relief or other medication.”

A syringe driver is a small, portable, battery-powered pump which delivers medication via a syringe at a constant rate over a 24-hour period. Lock boxes are fitted to ensure only authorised staff can administer medication or adjust its flow.

The device enables several medications to be administered simultaneously, and usually requires refilling only once a day. This reduces the number of injections staff need to give patients, contributing to a patient’s comfort and reducing stress on patients and staff.

In care home settings, syringe drivers are most often used to administer pain relief during palliative (end of life) care. They are used when oral medication is inappropriate or ineffective.

Carol said prior to purchasing the additional four syringe drivers, Enliven had eight syringe drivers across its four care homes, but there had been instances when staff had had to borrow units from the district nursing service or Hospice Southland due to increased demand.

Enliven Southland has 300 residents across its four residential homes. Last year alone, more than 100 residents passed away in its care, something Enliven had not experienced before, putting pressure on staffing and equipment, she said.

“With the increasing demand for the syringe drivers, we urgently needed to purchase more units to ensure they were available when required, particularly at short notice.”

As elderly people now tended to stay in their own homes longer, there was an increasing trend for residents to be older and sicker when they came into care. Some were already nearing the end of their lives.

The level of government funding Enliven received for residents’ care did not cover the increased staffing requirements for older and sicker residents, or the cost of purchasing specialist equipment, such as syringe drivers, for patients with more complex needs.

“With this funding shortfall, we are so grateful for the generosity of community funders, individuals, businesses and community organisations who support us so we can provide the additional equipment needed to give our residents the best care possible,” Carol said.