Lancaster Macmillan nurse shares her experiences

Caroline Mercer & Carol Brearley, two of the Macmillan Breast Care Nurses team at RLI.

Caroline Mercer & Carol Brearley, two of the Macmillan Breast Care Nurses team at RLI.

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A Lancaster nurse has spoken of her experiences as International Nurses Day begins which marks 40 years since the very first Macmillan nurse was appointed.

Caroline Mercer, 44, has been a Macmillan nurse for eight years and is based in the breast cancer screening unit at Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

We are not just focusing on physical support we are able to provide support to family members as well and to try and empower our patients to achieve some level of normality

Caroline Mercer

Geography was Caroline’s first passion but this changed when she got a job in a nursing home in Surrey.

She said: “I fell into nursing doing a degree in Geography.

“I went from training to be a geography teacher to a nurse, they are both people orientated and I just love it.

“I have always had an interest in oncology, I used to manage the unit at Royal Lancaster Infirmary but wanted something more specialised.”

Nurses’ Day is held on the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale and marks the significant contribution nursing staff make to society.

Caroline, who works in a team of five at the hospital, recognises the importance of the anniversary.

She said: “It is nice to have International Nurses Day, if we can raise the profile and to encourage more nurses to join then that’s great.

“I think the Macmillan services are hugely important for the community, we are not just focusing on physical support we are able to provide support to family members as well and to try and empower our patients to achieve some level of normality.”

Macmillan nurses help people affected by cancer, their families and carers make informed decisions about treatment, and guide them through the maze of different services.

They also offer emotional support and help people with cancer deal with their symptoms and pain.

Nursing has a long history of developing and driving improvements in care that go beyond the work of early pioneers such as Florence Nightingale.

The tradition has been kept alive in the North West.

To celebrate Nurses Day on May 12, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) highlighted some of the innovative ways nurses across the region develop new approaches to patient care in a new publication.

‘Making a mark’ shares examples of good practice and innovations from the acute, primary care and community settings, higher education and the independent sector. Innovations include a nurse-led programme to tackle acute kidney injury; a peer support group for parents with a difference, and a ‘Six Steps’ programme to help improve end of life care for care home residents.

Regional Director for the Royal College of Nursing in the North West, Estephanie Dunn said: “Nursing has played a vitally important role in the development of patient care and improving patient experience. From Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole, through the introduction of the NHS in 1948 and up to date, nurses continue to be at the forefront of change.”

Laura Nicks is holding a ladies night on May 16 at Ellel Village Hall in Galgate, Lancaster to raise money for Macmillan. It will start at 7.30pm and tickets are £5 available at 07701303384.