As a nurse, the patient is at the centre of everything I do
We spoke with Julie Little, Cancer Services Lead and Macmillan Lead Oncology Nurse at Derby Hospital, to find out a bit more about her role and the difference that the Careology digital cancer care platform is making to our beneficiaries.
How long have you been at Nuffield Health for, and specifically Derby Hospital?
I've been at Derby hospital for nine and a half years, and prior to this I worked for a different private healthcare provider. I've enjoyed my time so far with Nuffield Health due mainly to the wonderful staff that I've met over the years either here at Derby, or other Nuffield sites that I work within.
Tell us about your role as Macmillan Lead Oncology Nurse – what does a typical day look like and what is your favourite part of your job?
My days can be long, but they're still enjoyable. I spend my time between clinical treatments (systemic anti-cancer therapy administration, etc.), consultant clinics and managing the governance of the service. My favourite part is always being with the patients - I'm a nurse and the patient is at the centre of everything I do.
What have you seen change over the years in the Oncology department?
I've seen the Oncology service develop from just me to a team of nurses caring for patients who are at times at their most vulnerable within a service that provides a high standard of care. The team is growing in size and it's down to them as well that we have a superb service. I have a very talented, knowledgeable, caring team of nurses, administrators and pharmacy support which help to drive the service forward.
Tell us a bit about the development of the Bamford Suite, and how it has helped patients.
The Bamford Suite originally opened in 2012, with the aim to provide support and treatments for patients with a cancer diagnosis. In 2014 a Lead Oncology nurse was employed to lead and develop the service for people with a cancer diagnosis. Since 2014, which is when the service really started, it has grown in size and now has a whole team of nurses supporting patients and consultants and staff.
The service is Macmillan adopted and has gained the highest mark in the Macmillan Quality Environment Mark (MQEM). It has good links with Macmillan and also runs a cancer course on their behalf - I believe it's the only place in Derbyshire that runs it. It also has support groups for patients to attend and a large resource of support materials for them to utilise. Patients also have excellent continuity of care with the staff treating them and they're often able to enjoy their time within the unit or service, despite their diagnosis.
What pioneering technology is used to improve our beneficiary experience?
The service has recently successfully piloted an app for patients going through cancer treatments. Careology's digital cancer care platform acted as an extra layer of care for our patients, with Careology continually improving their software based on the feedback and insights our hospital provided during the pilot. It's very much part of Nuffield Health's connected healthcare ethos to look after both the body and mind of our patients, and Careology's cancer care software provides another important way to stay connected with our patients when they're at home.
The pilot ran from February to October last year and over half of the 50 patients who were provided with the app logged their symptoms monthly in response to medication such as chemotherapy, logged their vital signs and engaged with their clinical nurses about their wellbeing at home.
During the pilot, the digitisation of questionnaires meant that people undergoing cancer treatment here at Derby Hospital were more forthcoming in completing them, which enabled our hospital team to develop personalised care and support plans more easily. Additionally, feedback from nurses and patients during the pilot fed into the design improvements of the cancer care platform. Any changes were made incrementally; for example, patients said that they were forgetting to update their symptoms in the app so push notifications were created, increasing engagement by 12%.
We're now working on rolling out Careology's software across more of our oncology centres to support more of our beneficiaries - further information will be shared soon.
That all sounds amazing Julie! And finally, what do you like to do in your free time to relax?
I really value family time and I enjoy going out to eat and trying different places.