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Facilitator spotlight: following in family footsteps
Catch up with Keppel Schafer, CRANAplus Facilitator since 2011. Keppel followed his grandmother’s steps into healthcare and is passionate about the transition from paper-based to digital recordkeeping.
“Some girls follow in their mother’s footsteps. I’m a grandson who followed in my grandmothers’ footsteps.” So says registered nurse and midwife Keppel Schafer who has always wanted to work in healthcare. “One grandmother was a nurse and midwife, and the other worked as an assistant nurse in a maternity hospital. It’s in the blood I guess.”
Keppel, who currently works out of Fortitude Valley in Brisbane for Queensland Health in a state-wide role for its e‑Health department, has been a facilitator for CRANAplus since 2011, having conducted scores of courses in every state and territory in Australia apart from the ACT.
“One of the reasons I remain so engaged is because I absolutely value the contribution remote health workers make to some of the most vulnerable communities in the country from a health perspective,” Keppel says.
“What I love most is that facilitating keeps me grounded and connected. When I am back in the urban setting, with all the machines that go ping and extensive resources are available, I think of the people who are delivering healthcare in some of the most trying conditions.”
When he’s not facilitating CRANAplus courses, Keppel is heavily involved in supporting programs replacing paper-based clinical charts with digital records.
“More and more healthcare is being enabled and influenced by digital contact,” says Keppel who sees this development as a major plus for populations that are quite mobile and First Nations people are a prime example.
“Twenty years ago the GP would write your details on an index card and it would stay there. Now, using digital records, the information can be shared more widely,” he says.
In Queensland, there are 17 hospitals connected on one platform, with GPs also able to access certain information on a read-only basis. Keppel is currently working on the integration of primary healthcare information, which will particularly benefit patients and GPs in isolated areas.
“I’ve always had a burning desire to help rural and remote and isolated locations, and, at the moment, I feel my contribution is by being a volunteer facilitator for CRANAplus.”
Keppel is involved with the Maternity Emergency Care (MEC) course and Midwifery Upskilling (MIDUS) course.
“With the MEC course, we work with remote area nurses with little or no experience in maternity care, giving them foundational knowledge in the care of women and babies and providing some skills for their tool box that alleviates their anxiety about being involved in childbirth and maternal and neonatal emergencies.
“The upskilling course reconnects midwives working in remote locations with the latest evidence and information. In addition, these midwives are practising in isolated conditions, both geographically and professionally, and this course also helps them reconnect with the profession.
“Across both courses, we, as facilitators, always learn something from the participants. This two-way knowledge-sharing never fails to reaffirm why I love facilitating.
“While home births are increasingly popular in cities and big towns, there’s more and more emphasis today on encouraging women in rural and regional areas to go where there’s a big hospital,” he says.
“I think it is a really significant piece of policy work that the government shies away from.
It is complex and laden with cultural and social overtones. I come from a very small town and I, along with all my siblings, was born in that country town. None of my mother’s grandchildren have been born there, they had to be born in the nearest big hospital. That was a struggle for my mother to deal with.”
Keppel says he undertook midwifery initially because he wanted to be an RFDS flight nurse.
“I consider myself very fortunate to have the career that I have had while still only in my 30s,” he says. “For various reasons, I haven’t yet done flight nursing, but it’s still a thought that’s there.”
If you are interested in facilitating CRANAplus courses, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us.