What is Shared Care?
Children and young people with cancer need to have their care planned and coordinated by a specialist centre (sometimes called a principal treatment centre) like the one here in Leeds. Not all care needs to be given in the specialist centre and some care and support can come from local hospitals, children’s community nursing teams and general practitioners.
All children and young people come to Leeds to confirm a diagnosis of cancer and to start treatment. For some children, all of their treatment will be in Leeds, but for others, part of it may be given closer to home in a shared care hospital. A shared care hospital is a local hospital that has agreed to provide ‘care closer to home’ for children and young people with cancer and their families during and following their treatment.
How shared care is coordinated
Shared care hospitals work very closely with staff in the specialist centre and are in regular contact to help deliver and coordinate the care and support needed for the child, young person and their family.
Children and young people under the care of a shared care hospital will have a named consultant paediatrician and nurse responsible for their local care. The key team members of the shared care hospitals and children’s community nursing teams always communicate regularly about patients. They meet monthly with the key worker (Macmillan nurse) from Leeds to update and share treatment plans, and to discuss the care and support children, young people and their families need.
The staff in shared care hospitals and children’s’ community nursing teams have a lot of experience in caring for children and young people with cancer and their families, and most will have completed some additional training. The specialist centre provides a educational and training programme to ensure all staff within shared care have the knowledge and skills to look after you and your child.
The services available within shared care hospitals
All shared care hospitals provide out patient and day care services where children and young people can be seen for review, to have a blood transfusion (or other procedure) and for follow up clinics once treatment has completed. In some shared care hospitals chemotherapy is also given.
Some shared care hospitals look after children and young people as in-patients. When a child or young person is admitted to a local hospital the medical and nursing teams there are in frequent contact with the specialist centre discuss the admission and the care required.
Children’s community nursing service
All children’s community nursing teams are able to provide support in the home. They can carry out various aspects of care including taking blood samples, flushing central lines (Portacath or Hickman lines), giving support with feeding, and administering certain types of medication. Some teams can also give specific chemotherapy at home.
The services and support provided by children’s community nursing teams and shared care hospitals can vary from one location to another. Your key worker (Macmillan nurse specialist) in Leeds will be able to explain about the services that are provided in your own local area.
Shared Care Hospitals
There are currently five shared care hospitals within the following areas; Airedale, Calderdale, Hull, Scarborough and York. Each of these also have additional support from a children’s community nursing team.
For those areas currently without a dedicated shared care hospital the local community nursing teams are available to provide support and care within the home, these are Bradford, Dewsbury, Harrogate and Wakefield.
What are the benefits of providing shared care?
In providing care that is closer to home we hope to reduce some of the disruption that children, young people and their families experience during and after cancer treatment. By cutting down on the number of journeys to Leeds we hope that both the cost of travel and the time spent away from home, family, friends and school may be lessened as much as possible.
If you have any questions about what services are available closer to home please discuss this with your key worker, your consultant, or with the Shared Care Liaison Nurse (Telephone: 0113 3922315).