28th July 2020
Our head of cancer services Kate de Lord provides an overview of the systemic anti-cancer therapy we provide to patients in the comfort and convenience of their own homes.
A cancer diagnosis is frightening, not just for patient but for their families too. We pride ourselves on providing a personalised service with 24/7 support and a dedicated team devoted to each patient and their family to support them in navigating the road ahead.
Sometimes, a cancer diagnosis can make someone feel like their life has been taken out of their hands. Choosing to have their treatment at home where they feel safe and relaxed helps them feel empowered, and this active role in their own healthcare gives them more control over their lives.
Communication and continuity in care are key to personalised treatment
We have a standardised pathway in place for our patients. The care continues to be consultant-led for the duration of the treatment so we make sure we have all the information we need from the consultant in order to treat the patient and meet the needs of them and their family. We have a welcome phone call with the patient to reassure them that we’re there to support them and will take care of them every step of the way. We take time to answer any questions they may have, explain the next steps and ensure they know what to expect.
The patient then has a pre-treatment assessment and blood test between 24 hours and 72 hours before the treatment date. The day after the treatment a Healthcare at Home chemotherapy nurse will follow up with a call to find out how they are doing. Then, ten days later, the patient will have another nurse visit for a mid-toxicity assessment. Lots of cancer treatment can reduce immunity as well as blood count and can cause side effects. These normally culminate about ten days after treatment. The purpose of the nurse visit is to see how the patient is doing, find out whether they are experiencing any side effects and establish whether we need to provide any additional support for them.
Each patient will see one of three nurses for their treatment so it’s very much a personalised service with continuity of care. The nurses build up a rapport with their patients as they stay with them while they deliver their treatment. They see caring for someone in the home as a real privilege – it’s a very personal space to be welcomed into and allows them to really get to know the patient and their life.
There are numerous benefits to having treatment in your safe space at home. We often get feedback from patients that they like not having the stress of travel and parking, or not being in the environment of a busy hospital and it’s reassuring for patients to know the team taking care of them. This means patients are more relaxed and it’s really helpful to minimise any unnecessary stress when you are going receiving treatment for cancer.
Specialised patient support 24/7
The other service we provide, as part of the national guidelines on cancer care, is having an allocated cancer clinical nurse specialist (CNS) with each patient having the same CNS throughout treatment. Essentially, this is the patient’s key worker. They don’t deliver treatment but support patients and their families with any worries or questions and can refer or signpost them to other support available.
Cancer is a life-altering condition and can turn patients’ lives upside down. Some will have a young family while others may have a complex situation, but everyone has their own story and support is key. The dedicated CNS is there to respond to the needs of the patient and family with face-to-face visits and video or phone calls.
Patients also have access to our Care Bureau, a 24/7 telephone line manned by our own in-house nurses. If anyone is feeling unwell or has any queries from a clinical perspective these can be assessed over the phone using the UK Oncology Nursing Society tool to identify and triage patient symptoms. As with all contact with the patient, the consultant is always kept in the loop as they are accountable for their patient’s care the whole time.
Training, quality and clinical safety are high priorities
We have 150 highly trained chemotherapy nurses who all have in-depth knowledge of the treatments they are giving. We run our own SACT course twice a year which is accredited by Birmingham City University at masters and degree level. This not only provides career progression to nurses but also helps us increase our team of skilled chemotherapy nurses.
All our nurses are reaccredited annually to make sure they are still competent. This takes the form of study days and supervised practice. We have a team of SACT practice development nurses who really support the nurses going through the course and those returning to practice. By investing in training, we can assure patients of a standardised practice with high-end care regardless of where they live.
Patients really appreciate our personalised one-to-one care, but our nurses get a lot of satisfaction from it too and find their work really rewarding. It’s a privilege to support people, in their own homes, during such a challenging time.
For more information on the services we provide, please email firstname.lastname@example.org