UHMBT Staff working to improve the experience of Chemotherapy Patients

Sue Procter and Lyn Lawrenson, Sisters for the Oncology department at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI), are working to raise awareness of peripherally inserted central catheters (PICC lines) and improve staff confidence in PICC use and standardise aftercare.

A PICC line is a long, thin, flexible tube inserted into the upper arm under the guidance of ultrasound. It is predominately used for Chemotherapy treatment but can be used to take blood.
Approximately 252 PICC lines were placed in patients at the RLI and 100 at Furness General Hospital (FGH) in 2015.
Sue said:

“We decided to go ahead with the scheme because we had noticed that patients who had PICC lines in place and were attending the hospital for non-chemotherapy related problems were often being cannulated rather than staff using the PICC. So through this scheme we have really raised awareness amongst staff of how the PICC can be used.
“When patients are going through Chemotherapy it’s a really vulnerable time for them. Raising awareness amongst staff is also improving patient experience because they will not have to go through multiple cannulations.”

In order to maintain a PICC line and prevent infection it needs to be flushed with a saline solution and dressings checked by a health professional weekly. It costs the Trust £167.05 to insert a line and then £5.22 per line care. PICC lines can be used for approximately six months.
Lyn said:

“If a PICC line is not properly managed, it may become blocked and need to be taken out and another line inserted. The scheme has raised awareness of proper management and avoiding unnecessary spends.
“When a PICC is inserted it has to be done with Ultrasound so by reducing the need to replace these lines we’re saving both a nurse and radiologist’s time, which can now be spent treating another patient, not to mention patient time and an improved experience.”

Sue and Lyn have promoted their work through mini teaching sessions on the wards and at the Morecambe Bay Cancer Conference in November. They are now working towards an E-Learning video for staff which will be available via TMS and social media in the coming months.

They also hope to share their videos with health partners forming part of the Better Care Together (BCT) strategy to raise awareness and better practice amongst staff working in the community.
Sue and Lyn’s work is part of Wave 2 of Listening into Action (LiA). LiA is a key element of the improvement approach the Trust adopted in winter 2014 and has proven models of change. The aim is to fundamentally shift how UHMBT work and lead by putting clinicians and staff at the centre of change for the benefit of patients, staff and the organisation as a whole.