Comprehensive and compassionate support
A breast cancer diagnosis and the treatment that follows can be a highly challenging and emotional experience for most women and their families. There is strong evidence to demonstrate that women who are well supported throughout their treatment have more positive outcomes and improved psychological well-being.
Breast care nurses (BCN) are in a unique position to offer comprehensive, compassionate support, whilst making a significant contribution to improving the care delivered to breast cancer patients. BCNs are clinical nurse consultants who play an integral role within the multidisciplinary team (MDT). They provide women with evidence based information, specialised support and continuity of care, from diagnosis through to the completion of treatment.
BCNs at the Mater Hospital have extensive experience in working in oncology and have post graduate qualifications and Masters in Oncology. They also have a background in counselling and advanced communication skills. They apply the latest evidence based research and best clinical practice to their role.
The key aspects of the BCN role include:
- Continuity of care
- Supportive care
- Coordination of care
- Provision of Information
- Clinical leadership
Continuity of Care
The BCN provides continuity of care which promotes a close working relationship with each woman. This enables them to feel comfortable expressing their emotions or concerns. Women are seen at diagnosis and at regular intervals throughout their treatment by the BCN and receive regular phone calls until the completion of treatment. The BCN can be contacted with any concerns or questions about any aspect of their care or simply for a “catch up” chat. This close surveillance enables early identification of treatment side effects or psychological distress and ensures prompt intervention with the appropriate support. BCNs provide evidence based care that is individualised, practical and responsive to patient’s preferences and needs.
The supportive care takes a holistic approach encompassing the physical, psychological and psychosocial needs of each individual woman. Assistance can be given with decision making to enable the patient to take an active part in their treatment. The BCN provides practical support in managing side effects of treatment. They also promote recommended lifestyle and behavioural changes in relation to exercise, diet and alcohol consumption. Supporting women with the psychosocial impact of a diagnosis involves information about talking to children, managing work, relationships and dealing with the financial toxicity of cancer treatment. Support regarding the impact on a woman’s body image, self-esteem, fertility, menopausal side effects and maintaining intimacy is woven throughout the continuum of care. The BCN also provides support to manage the complexities of a breast cancer diagnosis in a way that is appropriate to their individual and cultural needs.
The BCN provides coordination of care by ensuring woman receive appropriate and timely access to a range of allied health professionals and support services. These include referrals to the Social worker, Physiotherapist, Psychologist, Lymphoedema specialist, Exercise physiologist, and Dietician and Complimentary therapy. These services and more are available and easily accessible at the Mater Hospital through The Kay Van Norton Centre for Wellbeing.
The Mater Hospital applies a multidisciplinary approach to treating and supporting over 550 newly diagnosed women a year. The BCN is recognised as an integral part of the MDT. They are involved in the coordination and planning of weekly MDT meetings to ensure they run efficiently. BCNs at the Mater work very closely with each member of the MDT to promote clear communication of patient’s individual preferences and psychosocial needs.
Provision of Information
There is an enormous amount of information for women undergoing treatment and this can often be very overwhelming. The BCN plays an important role in providing verbal and written information in a clear, comprehensive manner that is timely and practical. The BCN can assist women in managing information on the internet and ensure they have access to evidence based literature. The BCN encourages and assists women to be well informed about breast cancer treatment so they can take an active role in their own care.
The BCN plays a key role in providing information and education to both health professionals and the general public. This encompasses all aspects of breast cancer disease including raising awareness and the importance of early detection through educational forums and conferences.
GPs can directly contact or refer to the Mater Hospital BCNs by phone or by email.
Contact detail: 0400 356 479
Mater Hospital Cancer Care
The Mater Cancer Care team has a multidisciplinary approach to provide you with comprehensive and personal care. Our experience in treating complex cancers means you will receive treatment from a team of nationally recognised cancer specialists who are committed to the latest innovations in cancer care.