Nurse navigation focused on the patient and family across the care continuum can effectively guide patients with blood cancer to better care and quality of life (QoL), according to a presentation at the 2017 Oncology Nurse Advisor Navigation Summit (June 15-17, 2017; Austin, TX).
Adult survivors of blood cancers often must navigate a complex treatment landscape to live a longer and better quality life. Survivors cycle through multiple health care systems throughout treatment, surveillance, relapse, and beginning the process over again. Such patients often experience barriers to optimal care, including differences in health care delivery systems, ineffective communication, financial impediments, and fear or distrust of caregivers and treatment.
According to Kelly Bugos, MS, RN, ANP-BC, Stanford Health Care, an effective nurse navigator approach for survivors of blood cancers requires delivering patient- and family-centered care across the care continuum. Nurse navigators are uniquely positioned to prepare patients and families to successfully manage transitions among health systems, as well as to teach them ways to promote their health as they progress through their treatment.
One such transition technique is the “Ask, Tell, Ask” exercise, which can aid patients and families in recognizing their treatment needs and life goals. These understandings can then be incorporated into shared medical decision-making.
The role of hematologic nurse navigators generally includes:
- Counseling about fertility preservation, before treatment is given.
- Encouragement of exercise before, during, and after treatment.
- Connection with support resources.
- Setting expectations about healing.
- Documentation of patient issues and symptoms as well as the effect of nurse interventions.
Effective nurse navigators embrace these responsibilities and guides the patients and families to a longer life and a better QoL.
Additionally, Dr Bugos asserts that as the role of nurse navigators continues to evolve, it is essential to measure and assess the effects of the services they provide and the value they add to the patient and family treatment experience.—Zachary Bessette