For patients undergoing cancer treatment, questions and concerns on symptoms resulting from treatment are quite common. However, it can be difficult to find support and self-management strategies when the Cancer Centre is closed and care teams are not readily available. Now, a new resource is hoping to change that.
CAREchart@home is a new after-hours telephone support service for patients undergoing cancer treatment. It provides symptom support for cancer patients when their local treatment centre is closed.
“Between the Cancer Centre and CAREchart@home patients will now have access to 24-hour, 365 days a year symptom management support,” says Jen Belec, Program Manager at the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario. “During the day they have a triage nurse that they can contact and now, with CAREchart@home, they will also be able to access specialized cancer nurses after-hours who can provide them with information and guidance on what to do with symptoms related to their cancer treatment.”
During the week when the Cancer Centre is closed, which is after 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, and during holidays and weekends, if patients have questions related to their symptom management they can phone the toll-free CAREchart@home telephone line where they will be prompted by an automated service to select their language of choice and will then get to speak to a specialized cancer nurse. If a nurse is not immediately available, they will phone the patient back within 15 minutes.
After a call has been completed, a report will be generated by CAREchart@home and shared with the patients’ primary care team so they are notified on what the patients’ concerns were when they called and what interventions may have been advised during the call.
“When I see patients in class they’re new to their initial diagnosis or treatment and often have more questions than answers, so having this as an additional resource for them should be reassuring,” says Sarah Chambers, Patient Educator at CCSEO. “This service will help them to have that coach in the background for them when their immediate care team is unavailable because we’re closed.”
In addition to after hour care, the hope with CAREchart@home is to decrease the number of visits patients are making to the Emergency Department for their symptom management questions.
“We’ve learned from other regions that have implemented this tool that 49 per cent of the after-hour calls that are received don’t merit healthcare services, and were instead patients looking for support or clarification on their care instructions,” says Belec. “So rather than patients possibly taking a trip to the Emergency Department to find out this information, they’re able to get that support they’re looking for from the comfort of their home.”
CareCHART@Home is available to patients Monday to Friday during the hours of 4 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. and all hours on weekends and holidays, by phoning 1-877-681-3057. Patients are asked to have their updated wallet card, which will be provided by their care team and a list of medications on hand when they phone.