Parkinson's nurses provide expert care because they only work with people with the condition.
They can support people coming to terms with their Parkinson's diagnosis.
- A large part of the role is helping people to manage their medication, so they get the best results and fewer side effects.
- They can make referrals to other professionals such as speech and language therapists and physiotherapists.
- They train other health and social care professionals - for example on making sure people with Parkinson's get their medication on time in hospital.
Parkinson's nurses work in hospitals, care homes and in the community. Many see people in all these areas.
In hospitals, Parkinson's nurses run clinics and also make sure that other hospital staff understand Parkinson's.
If you have Parkinson's and you're admitted to hospital, the nurse can contact the ward staff to make sure they understand your condition and the importance of you getting your Parkinson's medication on time.
In the community, Parkinson's nurses also run clinics, including in rehabilitation clinics, GPs' surgeries and local community hospitals.
Parkinson's nurses may also see people in their own homes, if the person can't attend clinics.
Nurses can run telephone clinics or have dedicated times when people can call. This means people can get a quick response without a clinic appointment.
All Parkinson's nurses are employed by the NHS.
There is good nurse coverage in many areas of the UK. But there are still some areas with little or no access.
The referral process for accessing a nurse differs depending on where you live (see below for more information).
However, you must have a definite diagnosis of Parkinson's before you can be referred to a Parkinson's nurse.
In England, nurses either work in the community or in a hospital.
Nurses who work in the community have a designated area, and can only see people who are registered with GP surgeries within it. You can check with your surgery if they have a nurse available.
To see a nurse employed by a hospital, you'll need to be under the care of a consultant at that hospital.
All Parkinson's nurses are employed by the NHS. The process for accessing a nurse is different depending on where in the UK you live.
Unfortunately, sometimes the nurses can only see people under specific consultants, for example neurologists but not care of the elderly doctors.
You should check with the hospital or your consultant if you can access the nurse.
Referrals are usually through a GP, consultant, physiotherapist or another health professional.
In some cases your Parkinson's local adviser can refer you.
Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
In Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the process for accessing a Parkinson's nurse depends on the NHS Trust or Health Board where you live.
There is no split between community and hospital-based access.
However, you may still find that access depends on whether your consultant is within the neurology or care of the elderly department.
Our campaigning work has achieved good nurse coverage in many areas of the UK.
However, people in some areas still have little or no access to a Parkinson's nurse. Changing this is a priority for us.
If you have recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's and there isn't a community-based Parkinson's nurse in your area, you may want to check what nurse support is available at different hospitals close to you.
The referral process is not always straightforward. If you have any questions about the referral process call our free confidential helpline on 0808 800 0303 and an adviser can help you find out more about the situation where you live.
In a few cases, where the nurse is new in their post, they may not start seeing patients straight away as they work to establish their practice.
Getting to know...a Parkinson's nurse
"I was lucky enough to become a Parkinson’s nurse for the Ayrshire region in 2010. I’m one of 2 Parkinson’s nurses covering our region, and we work closely with the consultant and the Parkinson’s local adviser."
Nick Bryden is a Parkinson’s nurse in Ayrshire, Scotland. We find out more about his day-to-day work.