My job

Director of community service and lymphoedema

Caitriona O’Neill talks about her work with Accelerate, a wound and lymphoedema community interest company 
Picture of Caitriona O’Neill, who talks about her work with Accelerate, a wound and lymphoedema community interest company in East London.

Caitriona ONeill talks about her work with Accelerate, a wound and lymphoedema community interest company

What is your job?

Director of community service and lymphoedema for Accelerate , a wound and lymphoedema community interest company based in East London.

Where did you train?

Ardkeen Hospital Waterford, now known as Waterford Regional Hospital, in the Republic of Ireland, from 1990 to 1993.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Lymphoedema is a poorly recognised condition and there is inequity in service provision. Yet the condition can have a massive impact on peoples lives. Our organisation is in the privileged position to be a social enterprise, so we can be responsive and flexible in meeting our patients needs. We are constantly working towards improving the clinical pathway to aim for better outcomes.

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Caitriona O’Neill talks about her work with Accelerate, a wound and lymphoedema community interest company 

Picture of Caitriona O’Neill, who talks about her work with Accelerate, a wound and lymphoedema community interest company in East London.

What is your job?

Director of community service and lymphoedema for Accelerate, a wound and lymphoedema community interest company based in East London.

Where did you train?

Ardkeen Hospital Waterford, now known as Waterford Regional Hospital, in the Republic of Ireland, from 1990 to 1993.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Lymphoedema is a poorly recognised condition and there is inequity in service provision. Yet the condition can have a massive impact on people’s lives. Our organisation is in the privileged position to be a social enterprise, so we can be responsive and flexible in meeting our patients’ needs. We are constantly working towards improving the clinical pathway to aim for better outcomes.

What makes Accelerate’s approach unique?

We have a multidisciplinary approach with a team including a medical consultant, a psychologist, specialist nurses and physiotherapists. Our team spans the specialties of wound and lymphoedema care.

We invest in staff to fast-track training to a specialist level, and are supported to extend our input in the field. I am also supported through the organisation to be a trustee of the British Lymphology Society.

As an organisation I believe our growth and flexibility is different from the norm. As a small organisation we are constantly proving our worth, and the internal culture as a team is focused on the patient and system outcomes. This has extended our profile to become an organisation that is recognised as providing high quality care for our patients.

What is your greatest challenge?

My greatest challenge as a service lead is recruitment. It is becoming increasingly difficult nationwide to recruit nurses and allied health professionals. I suspect this is even more challenging in London due to the cost of living.

What has given you most satisfaction in your job?

There are two areas that invigorate me daily. I feel myself to be in a privileged position when meeting a patient for the first time and providing a diagnosis. Often patients will have had a complicated and difficult journey to get to this point. Imparting the relevant knowledge to the patient and enabling self-management is very satisfying.

Working alongside junior staff to support training in the specialty field is important, as is seeing confidence grow and develop and being part of the journey for those becoming autonomous practitioners.

What or who inspires you, and why?

I have drawn inspiration from a handful of clinical figures, including my first manager in a hospice and more recently the executive directors that I work alongside today at Accelerate. They have all had an internal drive to provide a human touch and yet demand a high standard in all aspects of care or service delivery.

Balanced alongside this, my personal inspiration comes from the people I have cared for, the stories of individuals I have managed. My frustration for those who have not had equity of access in relation to their condition drives me forward.

What makes a good community or primary care nurse?

A great community or primary care nurse reflects the expression ‘good old-fashioned nursing’ and has attention to detail, good communication, compassion, consistency and passion.

What advice would you give a newly registered nurse?

Enjoy the journey. Be clear on what you have a passion for. Once you have identified it, invest and commit to your development.

What is likely to affect nurses working in primary care over the next 12 months?

Recruitment and the shortage of available staff remain at the heart of all nursing decisions but are more pertinent to our community teams.  There needs to be a focus on recruitment, retention and creativity in developing differing skills sets.


 

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