Oncology nurse’s role of assessing family needs.
Dealing with a diagnosis of cancer is a very challenging time for both the patient and the family. The oncology nurses are the key point of contact for the patient and family however may not have the time and expertise to work closely with the family to ensure they are provided with appropriate support and guidance. Research by Dr Elisabeth Coyne of Griffith’s School of Nursing and Midwifery investigated the oncology nurse’s viewpoint of family assessment across three metropolitan hospitals. Using a qualitative approach 20 focus groups were conducted with 56 registered nurses working in oncology settings. Dr Coyne found that nurses identified that family assessment is important however opinions differed on the nurse’s role of family assessment. Two different views expressed; “So it becomes very much a dual role. And that’s a large part of what we do here, is keeping the carer strong, so that you keep the patient strong”. “I don’t know if I necessarily see it as part of my role” The engagement of families to assess their needs varied depending of the nurse’s education level and experience. More experienced oncology nurses and those with extra communication skills expressed they were able to engage with the family and assist them. Another aspect was the ward environment whether it allowed space and time to sit with the patient and family and ask how they were going and what the nursing staff could do to help their family cope. Overall the research found that whilst family are included in discussions and general assessment by oncology nurses, this is often completed informally with little structure and documentation. The development of opening phrases and a structure for assessment could assist oncology nurses in the promotion of appropriate family support.
Clinical Nursing: Secondary (Acute Care)