Aim The aim of this study is firstly to understand the form and content of telephone support delivered by the community palliative care team (single inner-city hospice). Secondly, to explore the perspectives of the team members, regarding their lived experience of providing telephone support.
Background The role of the community clinical nurse specialist in palliative care, is pivotal to supporting patients with complex needs. There is limited literature acknowledging and quantifying, the clinical and supportive role of day-to-day telephone advice, provided by the team.
Method A two phase method was adopted. Firstly, a contact analysis table, logging incoming calls and messages received by the team, provided a picture of the current provision of telephone advice. Secondly, adopting a phenomenological approach, in-depth interviews enabled the researcher, to explore the perceptions of the community palliative care team, on the current provision of telephone support.
Findings Relatives of patients utilise the telephone advice from the CNSs, for both symptom management and emotional support. The average length of a call for a CNS is eight minutes and two minutes for the administration team. The CPCT perceive that the availability and accessibility for advice over the telephone is valued by relatives, whilst health care professionals liaise and seek advice. The delivery of telephone support is complex and can be a catalyst for stress, anxiety and a source of overwhelming responsibility for the CNSs. The challenges that the team face, are balancing different aspects of their roles and having unmet training needs.
Conclusion This study has provided a “snap shot” of the day-to-day telephone support that is offered by the community palliative care team. Furthermore, this study has highlighted areas of potential development for the team, for example, by reviewing processes, logistics and administration, related to the ongoing delivery of telephone support.
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