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Facilitator spotlight: following in family footsteps

30 Aug 2021

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.