On Wednesday, 24 March, Emma Edwards, Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist, joined academics, health professionals and two of the world’s leading researchers to virtually present at the Parkinson’s UK annual Gretshen Amphlet Memorial Lecture.
The topic of this year’s lecture was ‘Could Cannabidiol be the answer to Parkinson’s psychosis?’.
Presentations were pre-recorded, and then shown on the night.
Emma was also part of a live panel following the lecture, answering questions from the audience that included members of Parkinson’s UK branches, volunteers and research groups.
Emma was asked to discuss the challenges of the Specialist Nurse role in supporting someone with Parkinson’s experiencing psychosis, where treatment options are limited.
Emma said: “I was asked to share my perspective of caring and treating people with Parkinson’s that also experience psychosis, a common feature in Parkinson’s.
“It’s a challenging symptom to treat as often the Parkinson’s drugs can induce hallucinations and delusions, however, it can also be just be part of the condition. Some people can’t manage without their Parkinson’s drugs, so we may need to reduce other medicines, or treat them with antipsychotics. There’s only two antipsychotics to choose from, and even these can come with challenging side effects. It’s a real balancing act and most certainly benefits from a multi-disciplinary approach.”
Emma has worked closely with Parkinson’s UK for many years; referring patients to the local advisors, accessing information and training. Emma was also part of Parkinson’s UK’s national Clozaril working party, gathering information about the best use of the medicine for psychotic patients.
Emma said: “I’m the only Mental Health Nurse, who is also a Parkinson’s Nurse in the UK, so when the lecture about Psychosis in Parkinson’s came up, they kindly asked me to contribute. I was shocked and honoured to be asked to present, but really up for the challenge.”
Emma joined Livewell in 2019 and was a Parkinson’s Specialist Nurse in Cornwall for nine years before that.
Pre-COVID, Emma was based at The Cumberland Centre,
She added: “The pandemic has massively impacted the way I work. All my clinics closed in March 2020, as did the training that I had set up with patients and carers. All conferences were cancelled, including a trip to Venice where I was presenting a poster.
“I’m currently enjoying the benefits of working from home in Cornwall, but spend 50% of my week undertaking home visits in Plymouth.
“The rest of my time is spent running telephone clinics and virtual appointments. I’m an independent prescriber, so will often be making prescribing decisions from my assessments. I work closely with our Derriford Parkinson’s colleagues, and will connect with them virtually at least once a week.
“I’ve embraced digital technology, swapping physical classrooms for virtual ones, and I continue to deliver training online to patients and colleagues.
“I’m also developing a Parkinson’s Non–Motor symptom app with Dr Carroll from UHP, and link up virtually with her team and the web designers as we approach the launch date.”
Following the UK lecture, Ian Veale, Community Services Manager, said: “Emma has been able to use her training and previous experience as a Psychiatric Nurse to educate the wider Parkinson community on how to care for people with Parkinson’s who may also be presenting with a psychosis.
“This isn’t the first time Emma has been asked to present to a national audience. Emma also had an article published on suicidal ideation and Parkinson’s. Emma is part of a pioneering research team, with University Hospitals Plymouth, managing patients with the use of digital technology to monitor when people require their medication, ensuring the person has a greater quality of life.
“Emma has been an advocate on the importance of ‘there is no health without mental health’ and that both the physical and mental health aspects of Parkinson are inextricably linked, providing the best possible outcomes for those with Parkinson’s.”