Information about chemotherapy is complex. Access to information prior to treatment enables patients to gain a better understanding of their condition, lessen their concerns and enables them to make informed choices about treatment. Traditionally chemotherapy education was provided by oncology clinical nurse specialists (CNS) on an individual basis to patients before they started chemotherapy. Increasing numbers of patients and reduced staff resources lead to problems maintaining service. The Irish Cancer Society’s Daffodil Centres are committed to quality improvement across cancer services available to those affected by cancer. Mater Misericordiae University Hospital (MMUH) and the Irish Cancer Society’s Daffodil Centre collaborated on a group chemotherapy initiative in 2012 initiated in response to a high demand for education services. After a successful pilot the programme is now running in 8 hospitals across Ireland. In 2018 342 group education sessions were held with 1713 attendees.
The Cancer Nurse in the Daffodil Centre facilitates this programme using educational tools including a specially produced audiovisual support (DVD) and short oral and practical demonstrations to assist different learning styles. To conclude the CNS meets with the patients to discuss their individual plan. All attendees are asked to complete an evaluation form which is inputted into a database and the results collated.
1217 completed the evaluation out of 1713 attendees. A number of themes emerged including: • Welcoming • Good information • Allayed concerns • Empowerment. Acknowledgement of the expertise of the nurse and other allied healthcare professionals who present at the session – medical social workers and dietitians.
Overall satisfaction levels were very high in the programme including the information and content on the DVD and the information received and the way it was explained by the nurse. Of those who left comments they were very positive about the experience and for the opportunity to attend. By attending the session patients and their relative/friends were made to feel welcome. Their knowledge of chemotherapy and its side effects were greatly increased and their fears of commencing treatment were in many ways alleviated.
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The author has declared no conflicts of interest.