Nurse Ana Sajovic: delivering care in people’s homes

Ana Sajovic is a community nurse in a health care centre in Kranj, Slovenia.

Ana’s day starts early, with team meetings scheduled for 6:30. By 8:00, Ana has taken care of paperwork and coordination calls with other health and social care professionals and is on the road to visit her first patient.

“I usually visit 7 to 10 patients a day,” explains Ana. “The curative visits are on the request of doctors, and I provide preventive care when I see the need. I may visit a newborn and find that the baby’s grandmother is present. I would then carry out a preventive health check on the grandmother,” she says.

The centre in Kranj is one of 61 such centres in the country providing integrated public and primary health care. In the centres, multidisciplinary care teams provide services that include diagnosis, management of acute and chronic conditions, mental health, oral health, rehabilitation, palliative and end-of-life care, as well as health promotion and education.

There are 25 community nurses working at the health care centre in Kranj, carrying out home visits in individually designated areas. Each of the nurses is responsible for approximately 3500 people. “When a doctor sets up a request for a home visit, the nurse responsible for that address carries out the visit,” says Ana.

Health for all – reaching the hard-to-reach

Community nurses like Ana have a thorough knowledge of the population in their assigned area. This enables them to quickly identify social and medical problems and respond by not only linking people with their doctors but also seeking solutions by connecting with the local community, nongovernmental organizations and other types of home help. As such they can help provide preventive health care to vulnerable groups, thus helping to reduce health inequalities.

“We visit the homeless, and often take care of any wounds that may be due to poor hygiene. We also visit people who do not respond to health check invitations from family medicine clinics,” explains Ana.

In Slovenia, a nurse from a family medicine clinic invites individuals over 30 years of age for preventive health checks. If a person does not respond after two reminders, the nurse from the family medicine clinic informs the community nurse, who then either finds ways to motivate the person to respond to the invitation or conducts the preventive check at home.

By reaching the hard-to-reach and providing a wide range of preventive and curative care, nurses like Ana help reduce health inequalities and improve health globally.

2020 – International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife

In recognition and appreciation of the contribution of nurses like Ana, WHO has designated 2020 – which is also the bicentenary of the birth of Florence Nightingale – the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. The year-long focus on nurses and midwives is an opportunity to get involved and demonstrate broad public and political support for having more health workers with the right skills and in the right locations to best meet people’s changing health and social care needs. Throughout 2020, WHO/Europe will showcase the work of nurses and midwives across the WHO European Region.