Lymphoedema – Resources to Support Better Care
9 March 2022 | Lindsey Lister, Lymphoedema Nurse Specialist and Catherine Best, QN, Practice Educator
In this second part of their two-part blog, Lindsey Lister, Lymphoedema Nurse Specialist and Catherine Best, Practice Educator at Saint Catherine’s Hospice in Scarborough share with you the importance of undertaking a holistic assessment of those patients diagnosed with lymphoedema.
Essential elements of a holistic assessment include the ability of the nurse to communicate effectively, to truly hear the patient’s narrative, to demonstrate compassion and look out for tell-tale signs that may indicate a person is developing symptoms of depression and anxiety, widely experienced by those diagnosed with lymphoedema.
Those who suffer from lymphoedema can find the condition very challenging and debilitating and with no known cure, this can lead to a loss of hope that their symptoms and the associated impact can be improved. With symptoms often leading to self-isolation, it’s often a condition suffered alone. LymphConnect is an online platform developed to help people manage lymphoedema or lipoedema and can be a valuable source of support.
From the nursing perspective, it’s important to remember that those who are diagnosed with lymphoedema can be severely debilitated. Even leaving home can be challenging, as many can feel ashamed of how they look and unhelpful comments, although perhaps well-intentioned, can lead to patients feeling anxious and vulnerable. As nurses, we can do so much through our communication skills, our empathy and kindness, simply by understanding a little more about the condition and its treatment.
Lymphoedema treatment plans are not simply associated with the management of physical symptoms; lymphoedema can be made worse by a variety of lifestyle factors including:
- Being overweight or obese
- Smoking – due to its impact on the vascular system
- A lack of regular exercise.
This is where you come in as a registered nurse. Not all of us can be Lymphoedema Specialists, however we can all play our part in helping to understand the complexities associated with lymphoedema by accessing up-to-date training and resources and when the issue arises, making sure that you are confident to provide advice and guidance. There may also be opportunities to work shadow, an invaluable experience in the repertoire of a nurse’s learning toolbox.
Not all of us can be Lymphoedema Specialists, however we can all play our part in helping to understand the complexities associated with lymphoedema by accessing up-to-date training and resources and when the issue arises, making sure that you are confident to provide advice and guidance.
Education and Training
A plethora of learning opportunities are available for health professionals to gain greater insight into how to care for and support people and their families whose lives are affected by lymphoedema. For healthcare professionals registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) they can also help to meet Revalidation requirements.
The Lymphoedema Support Network is a registered charity and the UK’s national support organisation for those living with or affected by lymphoedema. The network has collaborated with the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in providing two modules to assist clinicians in managing patients with chronic oedema/lymphoedema. The modules are free to access and could contribute to evidence of learning for Revalidation. To access the modules click here.
The International Lymphoedema Framework (ILF) produces a number of booklets associated with lymphoedema that can be printed off free of charge.
Elearning for healthcare has a multitude of learning opportunities related to lymphoedema management, including how to reduce the risks associated with obesity. If you have access to this resource, why not take a look?
The National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training also provides educational opportunities to help you support people to give up smoking.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has a multitude of resources about Making Every Contact Count, a strategy that encourages clinicians to take opportunities to discuss health behaviours with people to encourage them to adopt healthier choices.
In recent years the NHS has also emphasised health coaching as a way to help people make changes that will impact positively on their health and wellbeing. Why not look at some of the opportunities available and develop your skills as a health coach?
If you are interested in learning more about lymphoedema, Lindsey has considerable experience of establishing and improving lymphoedema services and she can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org .