Caring - an old word but a fantastic one.

Claire Coughlan 16 Jul 2021

As we try to surface back to some sort of normality, I can’t help but think about what that normality is supposed to look like.

For some of us it will be getting endoscopy lists back up to capacity, for others like my colleague in IBD it will mean being able to give treatment at a more sociable hour than the 5 am she had adopted so that patients risk of exposure to COVID during the pandemic was minimised. For all of us it will eventually we hope, mean spending less time dressing for the job in PPE!
For me it will mean being able to see many patients who are being followed up after a diagnosis of colorectal cancer face to face for the first time in over a year. For some they will wish for their follow up appointments to continue over the phone, for others they have asked many times when we can meet again, whilst being tremendously understanding when we explained that this, for now, was not possible. This sudden and total shift to a remote care for patients has for some been positive for others, not so. As a nurse I have struggled with how to nurse when I’m not with a patient, but I’ve realised that whether I’m on a phone, on the attend anywhere (previously alien) platform or in a clinic room the nurse patient relationship and the caring that is central to that remains and that is what normality means.

This realisation has been heightened by recent study that has prompted me to review literature about what patients want from follow up. I did a similar literature review when I first began nurse led colorectal cancer follow up clinics over 15 years ago. Of course there have been changes, in follow up, in service provision and thankfully in efficacy of treatment. The one thing that never seems to have changed is the clear benefit seen in the nurse patient relationship in general, and of the caring that it central to this in particular. As I said at the start, it’s an old word but a fantastic one!

Claire Coughlan

Committee member

Consultant Nurse - Colorectal, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust

Page last updated - 16/07/2021