Clinical Nurse Specialist Support at East Lancashire Hospice
Anthony Walsh is our Clinical Nurse specialist Team leader at East Lancashire Hospice. The team includes one head of department one CNS team leader and three associate clinical nurse specialists, who care for patients with palliative needs.
The team supports around a hundred patients at any one time within the Blackburn & Darwen, area, looking after complex symptom management of patients, offering psychological support and working with the advisory support services to care for patients who need Clinical care but who do not wish to remain in a hospital environment.
Palliative care is care given to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life- limiting illness. It is an approach to care that addresses the person as a whole, not just their illness. The goal is to provide quality symptom management and psychological care, as early as possible, for patients with complex symptoms from their illness and also managing side effects from palliative treatment, in addition to any related psychological, social, and spiritual problems.
“We provide palliative care service for patients whose illness is not curative”. Anthony explained, “Where we can link families within a multi-disciplinary team.” That means Anthony’s team liaise with GPs, the District Nurses, hospitals, specialists and social workers. “It allows the patient to be signposted to other services; they don’t have to think about who they need to contact for support or help.”
Anthony wanted to clarify that palliative care does not necessarily mean end of life care. “We may care for patients for a period of time until symptoms become stable then discharge the patient from the service. For others, we may see them for anywhere from a few short weeks or up to two years.
“Most people think of cancer when they think palliative care, but we also support patients with long term conditions which includes Dementia, Motor Neurone Disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Heart failure.”
The service is offered seven days a week during office hours, and includes face-to -face assessments. Not to be confused with emergency services, they are there to support patients with their conditions.
Anthony himself has considerable experience dealing with palliative care, including four years in another hospice, and working in A&E. He is still continually studying, and is presently taking his Masters in Prescribing Medicines.
“We are broadening our services to ensure the people cared for by the hospice receive the best and most suitable care for their needs.” Anthony continued to explain. “Our patients want to maintain a quality of life, until the end of life. We keep people at home as long as possible. The majority of patients don’t want to go into hospital, which is why our services are important; we keep them with their family, and maintain their medical needs.”
The role of the Clinical Nurse Specialist is constantly developing and changing, but it takes a certain kind of person to work in palliative care. We are just lucky that we have such a fantastic team of specialists here at East Lancashire Hospice.