Patients benefit from course with Macmillan Cancer Support healthcare professionals

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Date: 24th Jan 2020

Taking religious sensitivities in to account and improving recovery outcomes for patients were among projects developed in a course run between Buckinghamshire New University and Macmillan Cancer Support.

A total of 13 Macmillan healthcare professionals and a specialist cancer nurse completed the four-month Enhancing Cancer Care Practice Through Work Related Learning course, equipping them with skills to develop projects to improve cancer services.

healthcare professionals stood outside Bucks New Uni
Course Leader Mary Williams, Senior Lecturer in Cancer and Palliative Care and a former Macmillan palliative care nurse, said the course, which has run for four years, teaches attendees skills to benefit patients and their families.

At the completion of the latest course, which involved six ‘taught days’ on campus and a minimum of 300 hours self-directed learning, students presented their projects to other professionals they had learned alongside, as well as health trust managers and senior Macmillan professionals.

Mary said: “There is no doubt that the innovative and clever projects these professionals are implementing in the work place will have a positive impact on patients affected by a cancer diagnosis.

“It has been inspiring to witness the passion, hard work and dedication of these health cancer professionals in implanting change to ensure the provision of best practice for patients and families."

profile photo of Claire O Herlihy

Claire O Herlihy, Clinical Lead Therapist with the Cancer Therapy Team at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said the course provided a ‘valuable opportunity’ to learn from other professionals.

She is leading a project to establish prehabilitation services and improved recovery services for radical cystectomy patients, and said the course had improved her ‘skills, confidence, and project management abilities’.

Claire said: “Improving prehabilitation and recovery services should benefit 70-80 patients a year and we will be running a four-month pilot project to test its implementation.

“It will see patients have access to surgeons and anaesthetists prior to surgery, as well as an enhanced recovery clinical nurse specialist, and we are also looking to include occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, and dieticians to ensure a more comprehensive service.

“There is evidence that this will improve how patients recover, help address complications, and affect length of stay, for a better patient experience.”

Speaking about the course, Claire added: “I have had a really positive experience with the University. The atmosphere on campus is very good, and people are very helpful and supportive, and, as Course Leader, Mary has been a great help.”

profile photo of Becca JashekBecca Jashek, Clinical Nurse Specialist - Oncology at private provider HCA Healthcare UK, is leading on a project to introduce an education tool to ensure patients’ religious sensitivities are taken in to account.

She said: “The project is looking to ensure that staff are aware of how to look after patients, appreciate their religious values, and make any changes to the way they treat them in light of that, to ensure a good experience.

“I have found the course extremely useful, particularly in developing an action plan to focus me on what I am looking to achieve, and Mary has been very good as Course Leader. I would recommend the course.

“It has also given me more confidence to engage with heads of department, going directly to them to get their feedback on how they would like to see the project delivered.”

Projects have also included:

Supporting patients with a high grade brain tumour to access community support services;

Developing a support package for people with a stable incurable illness living at home;

Implementing a therapy service for two tumour patients;

Improved communication and information during the pre-diagnostic phase of lung cancer.

Lee Curtis, Head of School for Health Care & Social Work, said he had been impressed by the ‘high calibre of projects’ and was sure they would be of benefit when implemented.

He added: “The course facilitates knowledge-exchange by bringing together healthcare professionals who share their skills and experiences.

“This course is a great example of the University working with Macmillan Cancer Support and Trust partners to share our expertise for the benefits of patients.”

This year’s course has featured Macmillan healthcare professionals from Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Hillingdon Hospital Trust; Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust; Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust; King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust; East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Group; Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust; West Sussex Community Health NHS Trust; HCA Healthcare; and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

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