15 April 2015
Macmillan General Manager in NI, Heather Monteverde, and Practice Nurse Sophia Polatol
Sophia Polatol is the Practice Nurse at the Castlereagh Medical Centre, where she’s worked for the last fourteen years.
The former palliative care nurse has been running chronic disease clinics for patients with long term conditions, such as diabetes, but recently signed up for a Macmillan specialist training course to find out more about support services available to people living with cancer: ‘Things have changed so much over the last twenty years, when I was a Marie Curie palliative care nurse. I was already aware of the impact that a cancer diagnosis can have on patients and their families. But I was keen to learn how to carry out a Cancer Care Review and discuss patients’ individual needs. Some may need counselling, others may want benefits advice or be interested in joining a support group. As a Practice Nurse, I’m often the patients’ or families’ first point of contact. If you’re working, it’s often easier to drop in and see me, rather than wait for a GP appointment. Over time, people tend to open up more with me. Now I know where they can get the support they need.”
More and more GP surgeries are encouraging their practice nurses to sign up for the training, which is coordinated by Macmillan GP Facilitators. Heather Monteverde is General Manager of Macmillan in Northern Ireland: ‘We know that Practice Nurses have a key role to play in supporting people with cancer both during and after their hospital treatment. They need to know the potential problems that can arise following cancer treatment and what to ask patients during their Cancer Care Review.’
Now that she’s completed the course, Sophia says she’s learned to listen more closely to what patients do and don’t say to get a better idea of the support they need.