A patient who underwent a stem cell transplant has praised the “incredible” efforts of his specialist nurse – a person he said he “would not have got to this point” in his recovery without.
Naomi Dean, a clinical specialist nurse in post-transplant care, helped support Sam Williams who was diagnosed with blood cancer aged 21.
“It would be fantastic to have more CNS’ to ensure that all patients have equal access to the same levels of care”
Ahead of International Nurses’ Day this Sunday, stem cell recipient Mr Williams, has paid tribute to his nurse and flagged the importance of the work clinical nurse specialists (CNS) do.
Meanwhile, Ms Dean, who works for the charity Anthony Nolan, which funds CNS posts for post-transplant care, has welcomed the idea for more nurses in post to help ensure that “all patients have equal access” to care, similar to what she was able to provide Mr Williams.
According to the charity, not all patients have easy access to this dedicated type of support, leaving gaps in the service provision. Though it has said it is committed to recruiting more CNSs in the future.
Mr Williams described his experience of having the support of the charity CNS as one that “infinitely” helped him to understand the side effects of his transplant.
“I simply wouldn’t have got to this point, without the support of Naomi”
He described Ms Dean as a listening ear and a friendly voice, in which he felt confident to confide in after he experienced acute and debilitating side effects and an adverse reaction to his stem cell infusion.
He said: “Naomi provided a listening ear to whom I could ask absolutely anything, regardless of how silly the question might seem.
“Always a friendly voice at the end of the phone, no matter what, even if I am panicking over a minor issue,” said Mr Williams.
“On many occasions, I have felt much more comfortable confiding in Naomi about different issues that I might not necessarily have felt comfortable speaking to another doctor or nurse about,” he added.
Mr Williams said: “I simply wouldn’t have got to this point, without the support of Naomi and Anthony Nolan.”
He also explained that Anthony Nolan nurses provide a “different” kind of approach to the support that a CNS would normally provide.
In his experience, Mr Williams said that with Ms Dean he saw more of a focus on the social impact of the transplant.
“For example, I feel that Naomi has shown a real dedication to ensuring that I receive excellent support in terms of my mental health, by suggesting a wide range of different options that could help that I would not have known about otherwise,” he said.
Ms Dean has cared for Mr Williams since his initial transplant consultation in 2017, which was around the same time that she took up the charity specialist nurse role.
“He has been so resilient throughout his journey and I know he will continue to live life to the full”
Speaking of the support she gave to Mr Williams, the specialist nurse told Nursing Times: “I feel honoured that Sam and his mum feel able to contact me for support any time and to confide their worries and concerns in me – Sam will say it’s usually about little things, but the little things are often the big things!
“He has been so resilient throughout his journey and I know he will continue to live life to the full,” Ms Dean said.
When talking about the importance of her CNS role, Ms Dean noted that she was able to translate medical language into terms that patients understand and liaise with other health professionals that can help patients and carers.
She told Nursing Times: “The CNS role can be demanding and sometimes you wish you could split yourself into three, but it’s always worth it knowing you’ve helped someone.”
Ms Dean also said: “It would be fantastic to have more CNSs to ensure that all patients have equal access to the same levels of care and input.”
In Anthony Nolan’s most recent report, Who Cares?, the charity highlighted inconsistencies and gaps in transplant care across the UK.
One recommendation from the report suggested all transplant patients have a dedicated and named CNS.
A spokesperson from the charity said: “We’re committed to growing the programme and recruiting more CNSs, so every patient that feels that they need this support has it.”
“The long-term aim is to work together with the trusts to improve the gaps in post-transplant care and improve the patient’s transplant experience,” the spokesperson added.
Funding for the CNS post began in 2014 and the charity currently has eight CNSs, three paediatric nurses and two clinical psychologists working for them.
- Anthony Nolan is also celebrating Nurse’s Week via social media where it is sharing patient and nurse stories and videos. They can be found at @AnthonyNolan and by using the hashtag #NursesWeek.