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Justine Brennan on Blood Cancer Support Coordinators’ return to hospitals

When a patient is diagnosed with blood cancer, both the initial diagnosis and the resulting treatment and changes to daily life can feel overwhelming.

The Leukaemia Foundation’s team of Blood Cancer Support Coordinators continue to help ease the burden for Australians facing blood cancer as well as their loved ones in a multitude of different ways.

From practical support services in the form of both accommodation and transport all the way to educational and emotional assistance, our Blood Cancer Support team are there to help patients and their families navigate the rollercoaster that is blood cancer.

While online and over-the-phone communications remain integral to a Blood Cancer Coordinator’s relationship with their patients, face-to-face interactions allow them to provide an additional layer of personalised support.

Despite hospital visits being paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, from February this year, our Blood Cancer Support Coordinators began the transition back into hospitals with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in place for face-to-face care.

This news has been welcomed by patients, staff and Health Care Professionals alike. While their services provide much needed relief for patients, our Blood Cancer Support Coordinators also provide a helping hand to Health Care Professionals working within hospitals, and gives them further networking opportunities to fellow professionals within the health system.

One of these Health Care Professionals who has experienced the benefits of working with a Leukaemia Foundation Blood Cancer Support Coordinator is Justine Brennan, who is a Social Worker working in Cancer Care and Chronic Disease at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

We asked Justine about her relationship with our Blood Cancer Support Coordinators in the past, and how they supported not just patients, but her in her role.

Q: What has your experience been with LF BCSCs in the past?

“I have worked alongside LF BCSCs in both an inpatient and outpatient capacity for the last 10 years across paediatric and adult health services. During this time, I have referred many socially isolated and vulnerable patients and their families who would benefit from ‘wrap around’ support from hospital to community during their cancer journey.”

Q: What value do you think they provide for blood cancer patients, especially when they visit them in the hospital?

“I have always viewed LF as an extension of psycho-oncology, bridging support from hospital to home. In my experience, many patients and their families express anxiety about discharging from hospital, particularly at diagnosis. Linking with patients with LF BCSCs while in hospital, is an opportunity to educate patients of the support services available in the community, and forge connections in person to ease adjustment from hospital to home.”

Q: How do you feel BCSCs support your role as part of a broader multi-disciplinary team within the health system? What, if any, gaps in the system are filled by a BCSC?

“As my psycho-oncology counterparts in the community, LF BCSCs support my role in providing continuation of support services, particularly to the outpatient cohort which is invaluable given the large number of blood cancer outpatients serviced within the health system.”

The Leukaemia Foundation looks forward to being welcomed into more hospitals across the country, and if you would like to know if our Blood Cancer Support Coordinators can assist you and your patients in your hospital or workplace, please ask if your institution has a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in place.

Refer a patient to the Leukaemia Foundation

Do you need to refer a patient to us? Our updated online form makes it easier than ever to refer a patient, connecting them with a blood cancer support professional.