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Jill Barker, oncology specialist nurse

I wanted to share how important the role of psychological input is, a big part of our job is to support both the patient, the carers and family. I think it's predominantly one of the most important aspects of our job.

Jill-CNS-Day-web-listing-
Jill

With my colleagues we look after patients with cancer of the liver, pancreas and biliary tract which can be very traumatic for both patients and their families. They have to come to terms with a hard diagnosis and go straight into treatment.

From there the patient might look at end of life care within a very short period, we act as the main link for patients and their treatment. We’re can the glue that holds all the multi-disciplinary teams, the consultants, the doctors, and the treatment units together for the patients.

"I think of psychological input as travelling with the patient and their family along their incredibly traumatic journey which is really humbling for us as CNSs because we get to know the patients, be part of their family. We have to know a lot of personal things about them, and we see a lot of raw emotions."

We act as a point of contact for the patients, we also outsource to other support agencies such as the Maggie Wallace centre, Macmillan, and other cancer services.

A big part of this is also looking at the practical and psychological elements for the patients, things like benefit support. Families can be going along, living their normal life, and suddenly lose their income and we can help by getting extra benefits, which takes one concern away from them.

The patients and families also have a lot of forward planning, in a very short place of time, to do. We work very closely with the palliative care teams and find out the patients’ needs at this time.

One of the main skills we have as clinical support nurses is looking at the individual needs of patients and working out how much people want to know or how much input they want to have.

Some patients have cancer at different stages, and they want lots of psychological input whilst other people don't want any input at all. They may want it later, so we can look into bereavement services later on if they need that.

I think of psychological input as travelling with the patient and their family along their incredibly traumatic journey which is really humbling for us as CNSs because we get to know the patients, be part of their family. We have to know a lot of personal things about them, and we see a lot of raw emotions.

It's very insightful, it's hard but we're very lucky to do what we do.