JOB TITLE: Lymphoedema nurse.

Employer: Hospice at Home West Cumbria.

Age: I’m 18 with 21 years of extra experience.

Where are you from? Cleator Moor – I still live there.

Where do you work? Hospice at Home West Cumbria covers an area of Cumbria from Maryport to Millom. We provide home nursing, emotional support, complementary therapies and Lymphoedema care to patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families, free of charge.

I am part of the clinical team giving specialist Lymphoedema care. We provide assessment, deliver appropriate treatments and support to patients, their families and carers in West Cumbria.

We are the only provider of this service in our area, and last year we provided lymphoedema management for 275 patients.

I am based in Workington Community Hospital with the Hospice at Home clinical team. Lymphoedema care and treatment is provided at Hospice at Home West Cumbria’s specialist therapy and treatment centre in Finkle Street. I run the regular clinics for Lymphoedema care one day a week in West Cumberland Hospital.

We also arrange home visits for patients where necessary so I can find myself travelling from Harrington, Distington to Millom.

How long have you done this job? Five-and-a-half years.

Take us through a typical day: Referrals to our Lymphoedema service come from healthcare professionals including GPs, clinical nurse specialists in palliative care, and community nurses. Usually I start the day responding to any messages from patients that have been received by the clinical administration team from the day before or overnight.

Patient visits at home have usually been planned in advance, so I attend to review and assess each patient’s progress, evaluate their current regime and discuss the plan of care moving forward.

Lymphoedema is a condition which is sometimes misunderstood by people when they first hear the diagnosis. The causes of this condition include surgery, cancer, infection, obesity and or it may be hereditary. It is a chronic condition where persistent swelling results from an impaired lymphatic system so excess fluid is retained in body tissue. It is often found in the legs or arms. The treatment we provide can provide great relief from the pressure and discomfort caused.

Our care includes performing a full assessment of the patient. We devise a tailored care plan for each person. Each case is treated individually and could involve implementing compression bandaging; or measuring and then fitting compression garments which are a vital for the management of lymphoedema treatment.

When all visits are complete, I then fill in the information onto the patients’ electronic notes.

My day can also involve liaising with other healthcare professionals to provide advice and guidance on how to manage lymphoedema.

What do you like most about the job? I have the privilege of working for a fantastic organisation who support and help me to develop my skills, so I am then able to go out into our local community and provide the best care. The service we provide delivers hands-on care. We know that treatment provides much-needed and welcome relief to our patients, improving their quality of life.

Making a difference to people’s lives is so rewarding, and I love the challenges that can sometimes be presented in working to find the best solutions for the management of their condition.

What do you like least? It is very difficult to identify anything about this job I don’t like! Communication between health professionals can be an issue, which can delay treatment times.

Why did you want to do this job? I was already working for Hospice at Home West Cumbria with their family and bereavement support team leading patients support groups. I really loved the role but missed the practical side of nursing.

When I was offered the chance to work with the Lymphoedema team I thought I’d try it and see and found it was the perfect role for me.

What jobs have you done previously? I have worked extensively in elderly care as a health care assistant before and after I trained to be a nurse.

What qualifications or experience do you need? You need to be a registered nurse, and the lymphoedema training comes while doing the job. I am currently working towards a diploma at Glasgow University through distance learning. It will be completed in a few months, and I will then be a Lymphoedema nurse specialist.

It is wonderful that Hospice at Home West Cumbria are supporting me to undertake this training and I really appreciate the opportunity to increase my knowledge so I can provide the very best care to our patients.

What is a typical salary for this job? Experience pending, approximately £18,000 to £22,000+

Any advice for people wanting to get into your profession? Nursing is a rewarding job, yet comes with many challenges. It requires individuals to be dedicated, compassionate and driven to provide excellent care. If you want to branch off into specialist areas, it’s worth finding out what the job will entail and attend as many training sessions/study days as you can and speak to others in those roles.

I’d also advise gaining lots of experience as a general nurse before specialising.