Navigating your way through cancer

A cancer diagnosis comes alongside a dizzying amount of information and upheaval. To make life a little easier,  Imperial Private Healthcare has two dedicated cancer support navigators and two oncology clinical nurse specialists (CNS) working across Hammersmith and Charing Cross hospitals to help patients every step of the way.

It is generally recognised that a great consultant is an integral part of cancer care. But while consultants supervise all aspects of a patient’s treatment, every cancer patient at Imperial Private Healthcare is also assisted by a support navigator and a CNS for everyday practical help.

Clinical expertise

Clinical nurse specialists are trained and experienced in cancer nursing. Our patients benefit from having easy access to an additional clinical expert, aside from their consultant, who is able to answer questions about their treatment.

The CNS is able to support their patient by working with other team members to implement a care plan. They can order any medical tests and are able to evaluate results and can physically examine their patient in the absence of their consultant. They are also part of the multidisciplinary team which holistically considers each patient’s care, helping to develop a tailored treatment package.

The role of a navigator is simply to make life easier for patients and their families. They are able to advise on everything from appointments to community services, making sure our patients always have someone on hand to talk to.

Building relationships

Cancer navigator Sarah Lazare understands the value first hand. “My cancer patients need continuity”, she said. “It’s invaluable to have a relationship with one person who knows them and the treatment they are going through from diagnosis to end of their care. We can help with everything from booking their scans to arranging a parking permit. It all helps.”

Navigators are also there if patients just want someone to chat to. If a patient has a question about their care, the navigator will make sure the CNS or another healthcare specialist on the team returns their call as soon as possible. The team is always available – including offering support and information related to any other condition they may have whilst being treated for cancer.

From the first conversation, our navigators and clinical nurse specialists get to know their patient and listen to their concerns about how cancer might affect them. They become a familiar face and a visible, comforting presence on the ward – building trusted friendships, offering emotional support and reassurance, and sharing vital information. When a patient is at home or their CNS is not on the ward they can still be called or emailed directly if their patient has something on their mind – no matter what it is.

 “I’m there to alleviate some of the stresses associated with a difficult time “, said Sarah. “My job is to make the whole experience slightly more tolerable and hopefully more positive for patients and their relatives.”