Meet Andrew Stoddart, a Lymphoedema Specialist Registered Nurse at St Oswald’s Hospice. As part of Lymphoedema Awareness Week, we caught up with Andrew to find out more about his role in helping people who are living with the condition. As it’s also the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, we took some time to find out more about Andrew’s career to date and his reasons for becoming a nurse.
Andrew has been nursing for over 23 years and worked at St Oswald’s for 11 years, including several years as a nurse on our Adult Inpatient Unit and five years in the Lymphoedema Clinic.
What’s a typical day for you?
A typical days begins at 9am with a short lymphoedema team meeting looking at the day ahead before we start seeing patients. During the day I might be carrying out new patient assessments, reviews, seeing palliative patients and bandaging treatment. In-between appointments I receive calls from patients and other professionals looking for advice and information.
Every patient has different needs, so I might be reviewing how a treatment plan is going and making changes when things have improved or are not going to plan. Part of the care I give is around patient engagement, motivation and promoting wellbeing and often this includes supporting them with the psychological, spiritual and emotional needs, as living with a long term condition can have a significant impact their wellbeing and management.
In addition to my day-to-day duties I am also the Lymphoedema Tissue Viability Link Nurse and a member of the Hospice’s Sexuality Group.
One way I’ve made a difference as a nurse or midwife…
It’s hard to think of just one example as I have had so many varied roles, as before I joined St Oswald’s I also worked in surgery and intensive care in hospitals.
In my role as a Specialist here at St Oswald’s, I often see patients with significant swelling that is disabling and it is pleasing to see how our input can have a positive effect on their swelling and wellbeing. One particular patient I have started to see has severe swelling and it is difficult to maintain and manage, so we have adapted our treatments to offer them support and relief. This person continues to try and lead a “normal” life and just gets on with it at home, but it is when we are in clinic you can see the weight lifting from them as they open up about their worries.
What would you say to someone considering a career in nursing & midwifery?
I’d say nursing has changed a lot since I first qualified many years ago and it will continue to change. It is a challenging and demanding profession but it is also very rewarding.
Why is it important that we raise public awareness of lymphoedema?
Lymphoedema can be a difficult condition to live with, and if left unmanaged it can lead to complications. People need to know of the signs and symptoms, because it can affect anyone, of any age and gender and I would recommend being referred early rather than waiting for problems to develop.
Look out for more stories on our website. Every month we'll be sharing stories from our nurses to celebrate International Year of the Nurse and Midwife!