Our Head and Neck, Ear Nose and Throat emergency nurse practitioner Catherine Hawkes has started a conversation with the fire service to promote safety for patient who have difficulty speaking.
We have a large group of patients who struggle to communicate as effectively as they did prior to having laryngectomies and tracheostomies inserted.
Catherine and matron Qusva Ilya visited Huddersfield Fire station to get the conversation started.
Catherine said: " It was a good visit.The meeting was arranged due to concerns raised by our laryngectomy patients and their families during our support group. At the time, some of our patients became particularly concerned about contacting ‘999’ when they cannot communicate through the phone. "
It started after one of our patients was fine but his wife collapsed and she his ‘voice’ and his carer. He had to run to a neighbour to get an emergency response because he could not speak.
Catherine's friend is a firefighter and over a conversation in a pub in Barnsley he suggested she speak with his colleagues in Huddersfield.
Fireman, Michael Fox, said: The Fire Service works in partnership with many agencies and the NHS in providing individual assessment for those who are ‘potentially at risk’ in the community care setting’. "
Individual assessments on ‘at risk’ patients includes: fire prevention, crime prevention, social isolation, cold homes (fuel poverty) and smoking cessation
Catherine added: " It is a ‘referral’ service only, as their resources are just as stretched as ours. But once referred to the Service by ourselves within the head and neck team, the partnership between both services will aim to reduce risk factors within the community setting, and give our patients a sense of security when home alone.
"The service will also assess a patients’ inability to ‘voice’ through a phone line and will provide advice on panic alarms and carephones.
" For some of our head and neck cancer patients and their families, this will aim to provide a sense of security who often feel isolated in the community which is beyond their secondary care support.
"We aim to have our initial referrals via an eFerral process in place before the end of thhis month. "