A group of nurses trained to provide psychological support to cancer patients has opened the door to potentially wider use across other nursing specialisms.
St Mark’s Centre for Familial Cancer initially recognised the gap in service provision and fact that anxious patients were frequently overwhelming GPs and emergency services with calls seeking additional information and reassurance about their conditions.
Laura Monje-Garcia, a nurse and clinical research fellow at St Mark’s Hospital, said: “Medical and surgical approaches often prioritise the physical aspects of treatment and inadvertently side-line the potential emotional and psychological impact on patients.
“Our nursing team is committed to providing the best possible support for patients and embraced the opportunity to enhance their skills in this area.”
The training program equips healthcare professionals with an emotional well-being screening tool which evaluates patients’ psychological well-being.
This ensures they receive the necessary support in areas such as accessing tests, rehabilitation, treatment adherence, mental health management, and guidance to relevant services.
The project was funded by a £5,000 grant from the hospital’s Innovation Fund which also supported planning, delivery and evaluation of the project.
The fund encourages staff to think outside the box and offers up to £10,000 per project to help bring their idea to life. Projects must improve patient care, staff experience or make better use of resources.
The skills acquired during the training programme were not exclusive to cancer nurses and could be equally valuable for nurses working with patients with other chronic conditions like inflamatory bowel disease.
In addition, there is a case for a shorter training programme for administrative staff who interact with anxious patients on the phone.
St Marks’ is hosting its annual Frontiers conference this week bringing together the foremost authorities on colorectal and intestinal disease for three days of debate and discussion.
Free online tickets are still available and you can find these and more information about the event here .