Ireland’s cancer incidence will double in the next 25 years. This, together with advances in oncology drugs and patient treatment options will increase cancer prevalence and survival. Though welcome, medical advances exert pressure on hospital capacity, where traditionally all such patient care is delivered. Alternative ways to safely manage these patients need to address demand.
The aim of the six month Community Oncology Nursing Programme (See Abstract 7) is to enable community nurses to provide shared nursing care to acute oncology patients at home. Community nurses currently provide care to patients in their areas from ‘cradle to grave’ but not traditionally cancer care. Community nurses received training that equipped them with knowledge and skills to safely and competently provide care at home to patients undergoing systemic cancer therapy. Theoretical and skills based training was delivered over six months. It met an identified service need, highlighted by the hospital oncology team. A resource book was developed to support nurses caring for theses patients.
A mixed method approach using qualitative and quantitative components included
• Patient telephone interviews
• Focus groups
• An analysis of community and hospital data
This study found patient experiences were positive, an expansion of community nurses scope of practice, hospital capacity was freed-up and most importantly no adverse patient events occurred. Weak information technology structures for data collection made the evaluation of this programme challenging.
This integrated care model was successfully delivered because of the safety features built into the programme, commitment from all stakeholders, strong national and local leadership and a resource book which supported nursing practice.