Cancer patients helped through new group sessions

Pictured from left: Director of Operations at County Hospital Claire MacKirdy, Healthcare Support Worker Karen Ryell, Staff Nurse Jackie Cooper and Senior Sister Kerry Pearson

People who need chemotherapy can now meet together for support and advice, thanks to an innovative new service at County Hospital. Staff Nurse Jackie Cooper and Healthcare Support Worker Karen Ryell have teamed up to create a pre-assessment group which allows patients to receive essential information about their upcoming treatment as part of a caring group environment. This new approach to appointments not only enables patients to build a support network with people undergoing a similar experience but also means that more patients can be seen in less time.

Kerry Pearson, Senior Sister on the chemotherapy unit at County Hospital, said: "The idea of having chemotherapy can be quite a scary one and patients have lots of questions about what to expect. Patients who attend group pre-assessments not only have the opportunity to receive lots of information and advice from healthcare professionals, but get to talk to each other about their experiences and therefore feel less isolated. Of course, we take patient confidentiality very seriously and patients are still able to have one-to-one appointments to discuss personal information as and when necessary.

"Jackie and Karen have worked really well together to make sure the service flows and that there is no time when patients feel like they're just hanging around. Their work means that we have been able to reduce the waiting list for appointments and it has strengthened the working relationship between the two hospital sites as well. The feedback that we have received from patients has all been very positive and colleagues have been supportive too."

Jackie and Karen, along with the support of other staff, have won Team of the Month in recognition of their achievement.

Claire MacKirdy, Director of Operations at County Hospital, said: "It is really encouraging to see how hard Jackie and Karen have worked to put this service together for patients and their work demonstrates a real insight into what people need at this challenging time. It's always lovely to be able to acknowledge achievement at County Hospital and I'm really pleased to be able to give them this award."