Meet the outreach nurses

You may hear one of these nurses called a "POONS". That's because their proper title – Paediatric Oncology Outreach Nurse Specialist – is a bit of a mouthful.

So it's best to describe what they do – and how they can help you and your family.
These outreach nurses provide a link between hospital and home for children with cancer or leukaemia. That means that around the time you are diagnosed, you'll meet one of the team who will talk to you and your family about what you need while you are poorly.

It might be that there are things you don't understand about your illness or treatment; or your parents or other grown-ups might need advice on how to look after you at home.

Whatever questions or problems you have, your "key worker" outreach nurse will guide you through them. That may involve referring you to other professionals, such as play specialists, dietitians, psychologists and faith leaders.

Cancer is a disease that can affect the whole family and every aspect of family life, which is why it's important to have someone to support you through the journey ahead.

The contact you have with your outreach nurse may change over time. If everything is straightforward and going well, it might not be necessary to contact them much. If things get difficult because your treatment is quite complicated or you become very sick, you may see or speak to them quite a lot.

They can be especially helpful when you return home after being in hospital for quite a long time. That can be quite a worry – not just for you but for your family. Your mum and dad need to know about the possible side effects of your medication or how to recognise if you need to go back to hospital. You might be worried about going back to school or playing sport again.

Lots of children and their families have used the POONS service and have found it really helpful. One mum said she particularly liked being able to pick up the phone and know she would speak to someone who could give her support straightaway.

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