By Maria Gregoriou
JUST over 18 months ago Anna Michaelidou, a nurse with 23 years experience, made the decision to set up a nursing services company, and she hasn’t looked back.
At a time when the state health services are overloaded and families may not be able to afford private full time hospitalisation or care for their loved ones, Michaelidou saw that a service providing private nursing could be the answer and set up M.A. Nursing Services CY Ltd.
“After 23 years of experience, I felt that I had the confidence and experience to help more people and this was the best way I could find,” 40-year-old Michaelidou said.
With her experience, comes freedom to do what she loves doing to the best of her abilities. By freelancing she and her team can provide better quality of life to people who really need private care.
Her company, one of two private nursing services in Cyprus, works on a 24-hour basis and in the comfort of the patient’s home, or indeed wherever they are needed.
Michaelidou gives an example of the type of patient her nurses work with.
“We are currently working with a woman who lost movement in her legs and arms, then lost her ability to swallow. Because all her muscles are beginning to fail she also has problems breathing,” said Michaelidou.
“We know that she will eventually need to be on a ventilator so our services provide her with a better quality of life until things get to that stage.
“Although her body is failing her, her mind is still very active. I have been with her for two years and my team has seen the changes.”
The woman, said Michaelidou, is a typical example of the type of patient who does not need hospital care, just specialised care at home.
In this certain case the woman already had her own wheelchair, sucking machine, a special car for disabled people and a machine to lift her up and down stairs.
If this equipment was not already present, the private nurses would have provided these.
“As the woman cannot talk our staff has to find a way to communicate with her. We pass this knowledge onto the home carer who will continue taking care of the woman when our services are no longer needed by the family or when we are not there,” Michaelidou said.
In these kind of rehabilitation or chronic cases, care is give in the home on a 24/7 basis and nurses work on a rotation basis.
Michaelidou said her nurses may also be called to take individual care of someone who is in a public hospital, if the family is not satisfied with the care being given there, or to take people for various treatments such as, chemotherapy or dialysis.
“A lot of the people the nurses take care of are very sick or handicapped, so it is very difficult for their loved ones to transport them or spend the time needed with them,” Michaelidou said.
Pricing is conducted on a case by case basis. The company takes into consideration how long the nurse or nurses will be needed, the special skills or equipment required, and any other factors involved.
“A client comes to us with a request for our services and we make an assessment of their needs and a price is set,” she said.
When all the factors are calculated and put in print, the company issues an offer of services and if the client agrees, the nurses begin to offer medical care. If patients have trouble paying for the services, the company tries to help as much as possible.
“There are many cases where people are in a terrible state and really need full medical care but they can’t pay us in full or can only pay a partial amount of the fee,” Michaelidou said.
“We try to help as much as we can in our own free time and I wish we could all work on a pro bono basis only because so many people need our help.”
The private nursing services also offer babysitting services for parents who may prefer a professional nurse to take care of their children.
“For babysitting services we charge €10 an hour. If the parents want a full-time package then the price changes depending on their needed,” Michaelidou said.
Nurses are located in Nicosia, Limassol and Larnaca so if patients are outside the cities, they are also charged travel expenses.
There are ten full-time nurses on the team and ten part-time nurses. Most of the nurses are located in Nicosia as this is where the office is but will travel from one area to another. Two nurses are based locally in Limassol.
All nurses within the team are licensed by the health ministry and are either Greek or Cypriots. Some are specialised in certain fields but all nurses have basic medical knowledge.
The nurses also receive training and attend seminars to keep up-to-date.
“We are currently arranging for ten nurses to attend a training course at Apollonion private hospital in Nicosia. The hospital is allowing us to use its facilities for the hands-on training sessions.
When asked if the company receives any government support, Michaelidou said she is working on having her nurses do practical training at the intensive care unit at Nicosia general hospital. This will give them experience in the private and public sector.
“It is a very busy unit so our nurses, who are professionals, will have the chance to see and handle a vast amount of cases,” she said.
“They will work for free and help the intensive care unit, which is overwhelmed with patients, while at the same time, receiving the kind of experience in 300 hours at the hospital that they could not get in other locations,” Michaelidou said.
Michaelidou is also a member of the multiple sclerosis association and is trained to treat such patients.
Michaelidou worked in public hospitals for 13 years and as an assistant nurse in a cardiology unit for five and a half years before taking on freelance work.
“Working on a freelance basis as an individual nurse does not enable you to take on long-term medical care cases because your time is limited. This is why I decided to start the nursing services company,” Michaelidou said.
For more information contact [email protected] or visit http://www.nursingservices.com.cy