Lawrence nurse and coordinator

A day in the life of a Nurse Coordinator

by Gail Ambrose, Retired LHNT Nurse Coordinator

My name is Gail Ambrose and I joined Lawrence Nurses as a registered nurse when it started in 1999. I was then a community nurse and the two jobs complemented each other. I then became a coordinator over 10 years ago.

What the coordinating role involves

As a coordinator we are on call and available 24/7. We respond to all enquiries about our service, where necessary signposting callers to their GP, our website for support information or to other organisations able to help them, including our sister charities.

We take referrals from GP’s, District Nurses, the Palliative Care team and from patients and relatives. We obtain as much information about patients’ likely needs and make the decision about whether or not they meet Lawrence Nurses criteria. If needed, I consult with the Registered Nurse Manager (RNM) or a Clinical Director.

Once accepted, we will undertake an assessment in the patients’ own home, this includes a risk assessment, we then decide what nursing support needs to be put in place, and deploy individual nurses with as much notice as practicable to undertake shifts. This can sometimes be with immediate effect if it is needed and we have a nurse available.

We work closely with the Community Nurses (DN’s), Occupational Therapists (OT’s) for necessary equipment, GP’s and the community palliative care team, (CPCT) so it gives good continuity of care. We make sure the medication and documentation are in place and a set of Lawrence Nurses notes are kept in the patient’s home.

Our patient caseload varies from day to day and week to week. It includes active patients, assessed patients but not active, and pending patients. We support the patient, their family and carers by being available to talk when needed and obtaining feedback about how we can meet their ongoing care needs and seeking guidance from RNM where issues arise. We also visit patients who have died and will do a verification of death if appropriate.

We support our Lawrence Nurses during the day and overnight if needed and where necessary at patient’s homes. They will be given handover information before they visit and then will give us an update at the end of their shift. We complete and update all documentation before end of duty period and briefing so we can give a comprehensive handover to the next nurse coordinator.

Typical day

No day is typical.

If we have a nurse or nurses on night duty our day starts at 7am with a text to say they are leaving the patients’ home. Followed by a phone handover when they get home.
With this information we will update GP, DN and any other HCP if any changes are needed to the patients care and update notes etc.
Check and book nurses for day/night shifts and update them before their visit
Take referrals and book assessments, these can come in at any time of the day and we may have to do same day if urgent
We may get a call to go and give medication during the day and are on call 6-10pm.
We have a lone worker policy so the nurses have to text us when arriving and leaving a patients’ home so we know they are safe, even if it is the middle of the night
Emails are checked daily and are checked on NHS emails for specific patient information; we also update the handover sheet and complete the activity sheet, so we can keep a record of referrals and visits
If time allows there are notes to make up, equipment to check and duty rota to do. Never a dull moment!
Why I have done the role and what it means to me

I have always had an interest in palliative care. I feel honoured and privileged to be involved with the families at such a difficult time and we only have one chance to get it right! To me the patient and the family are equally important and if we can give them a ‘good death’ then we have done a good job.

I knew Martin Lawrence and he would be so proud of the Lawrence Nurses. I work with a fabulous team of nurses and we all support each other through the ups and downs of this challenging job. I am known as the mad Irish nurse who hugs everyone, I can think of worse things to be remembered for!

Gail Ambrose
Retired Lawrence Nurses Coordinator