Enhanced Supportive Care (ESC) promotes earlier implementation of supportive and palliative care within cancer care. It focusses on keeping patients well through treatment and includes the management of physical and psychological symptoms, controlling side effects from anticancer treatment and post-treatment care. (Multinational Association of Supportive Care, 2017). The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre is participating in a pilot of ESC implementation (CA1 Enhanced Supportive Care for Advanced Cancer Patients for Cancer Programme of Care Schemes: NHS England, 2016, updated 2017). Evaluation focuses on clinical outcomes e.g. referral rates and unplanned admissions but these do not encapsulate the complete patient experience.
Often in healthcare the contribution of administrative team members is not acknowledged and yet these roles are essential. In this pilot, dedicated professional administrative support is a key component and has been instrumental in service expansion and development. Key roles include communicating with and supporting patients and their families and providing valuable guidance to other healthcare professionals across the Trust.
The first patient experience of the service is through telephone contact with a member of the team. The friendly professional supportive approach sets the tone for future care. Patient and carer feedback highlights the importance of a single personal point of access for non-clinical information and support from knowledgeable professionals. They advise on common questions such as ‘How does ESC fit into my care?’ ‘Does this affect my other treatment?’ or ‘Which professionals will I see?’ Patients have welcomed the opportunity to discuss their anxieties or concerns about the service and have valued the emotional support, building up rapport with team members.
Professionals within the Trust have highlighted the value of a single point of referral and the expert advice regarding patient eligibility that the team provides. Providing a personal service is important to the team – they are aware of the value they bring and welcome the opportunity to use their skills to directly contribute to patient care and support.
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