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Jean Flanagan discusses collaboration in cancer care

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VOL: 98, ISSUE: 33, PAGE NO: 31

Jean Flanagan is a member of NT's clinical advisory group

Part two in Nursing Times' series of articles on cancer care discusses the use of patient feedback to inform developments in cancer and palliative care.
Part two in Nursing Times' series of articles on cancer care discusses the use of patient feedback to inform developments in cancer and palliative care.


This type of collaboration is a strategy that aims to shift the balance of power more firmly from the health care professional to the person who is in receipt of care. In essence, collaborative care is concerned with enabling patients to have choice, a voice and control over what happens to them at each stage in their treatment and care.


Since the late 1970s, the World Health Organization has promoted the idea that individuals have a right and a responsibility to be involved in their health care. This is widely accepted in contemporary clinical nursing practice and is evident in the day-to-day practice of many nurses.


However, there is increasing recognition that much remains to be done. The basics of a collaborative relationship - communication and the sharing of information - are sometimes found wanting. For example, John Hunt and his colleagues point out that good communication is not always a feature of cancer care and that not all patients receive adequate information (p32).


A philosophy of collaborative care assumes a great deal of commitment to improving a service by taking users' and carers' views into account. The benefits of this approach can therefore be seen at an individual and service level.


But the barriers to this type of involvement are real and are often disguised in statements that question how representative or legitimate the views of service users are.


It is therefore reassuring to read about an example of good practice in which real commitment is shown to the concept of collaboration. Hunt and colleagues show what can be achieved in practice development when research stimulates change. At the same time, they challenge other health care professionals to take a similar approach to practice.


With the best will in the world, all our professional experience and empathetic attitudes are no substitute for the direct involvement of patients and carers at all levels of care delivery. We need to see more examples of this kind of collaboration.
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