(15 September 2023) The Lynch Nurse Educators, Amy, Karen and Rebecca, were tasked with spreading awareness of Lynch syndrome, and educating a wide range of healthcare staff to the point where knowledge and testing of Lynch syndrome becomes part of mainstream medicine.

What is Lynch Syndrome?

Lynch Syndrome (LS) is a rare condition that can run in families and lead to a higher risk of developing certain cancers such as bowel, womb, stomach and pancreatic.

An estimated 200,000-300,000 people in the UK have LS, but only 5 per cent have been tested and diagnosed.

Our Lynch syndrome project aims to improve the early detection of cancer, and access to personalised cancer care for people with Lynch syndrome.

Identifying patients who have LS means that they can be diagnosed and monitored from a younger age, and the development of tumours can be identified sooner.  This will allow earlier treatment and, in some instances, preventative measures to be taken, providing better outcomes for patients.

Our Lynch Nurse Educators, Karen, Rebecca and Amy

Educating the Workforce

In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, education plays a pivotal role in ensuring that professionals are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide the best possible care. And that included the team.

Once they were up to speed, the project began in earnest, with the team meeting to work out their strategies and goals. This groundwork would prove invaluable and led to the creation of a comprehensive education pack that would serve as a valuable regional staff resource.

This pack covered a wide range of topics, from the intricate genetics of Lynch Syndrome to the specifics of inherited conditions and testing procedures.

However, the team didn’t stop at creating educational resources; they took to the frontlines, conducting face-to-face sessions in trusts all across the region. Sessions that were not just about disseminating facts; they were interactive sessions where nurses could ask questions and seek clarifications on any issues that came up whilst incorporating these new skills.

A Problem Solved

One recurring theme revolved around the timing for intervention within current care pathways, such as raising the topic of Lynch Syndrome with patients, the right time to have certain conversations, and discuss testing; and the evolving role of nurses in Lynch Syndrome care.

Addressing these questions required a thoughtful approach, and the Nurse Educators devised an innovative solution.

They developed an algorithm that placed healthcare staff on the Lynch Syndrome care pathway, ensuring that the right interventions occurred at the right time. This algorithm not only streamlined patient care but also empowered nurses with a clear roadmap.

The Tailored Approach

The team understood that knowledge transfer was not a one-size-fits-all endeavour. Many nurses faced a steep learning curve, transitioning from merely understanding Lynch Syndrome to conducting tests and informing patients.

All this information is still being digested, with clinical staff seeking clarifications, and adapting Lynch Syndrome testing to their trust’s specific framework.

The involvement of trusts in the education process was instrumental. These trusts actively engaged with the Nurse Educators, demonstrating a willingness to learn and share good practices.

It was also important to build strong relationships with cancer alliances, clinical teams, and nurses, for this collaborative effort has laid the foundation for mainstreaming Lynch Syndrome care.

The Keys to the House

The keys have now been given to the workforce, who are now the main drivers of mainstreaming in their trusts. To support them, a community of shared practice is essential, allowing staff to come together and problem solve, share good practice, and equally importantly, ensure staff do not feel alone in their task. The Lynch Nurse Educators identified key people who will be able to drive and develop this network of shared practice, to give them the tools to succeed. They will be further supported by the National teams, and Regional Genetics Services.

With 28 MDT’s and a myriad of staff across the trusts they are now in the position to drive forward mainstreaming.

A Learning Journey for All

Yet, it wasn’t just about educating others. The Lynch Nurse Educators themselves embarked on a significant learning journey. They had to not only become experts in Lynch Syndrome but also develop skills in project management, reporting, and delivering engaging presentations. The project not only expanded their knowledge but also their horizons as educators.

Working as a team of three brought the Nurse Educators closer, allowing them to share their strengths and experiences. This collaborative spirit was a driving force behind their success. Plus, being part of a nationwide effort focused on achieving a common goal was indeed exciting and motivating.

For Amy, one of the Lynch Nurse Educators, this project was the highlight of her career – highlighing how education can transform healthcare, and symbolized not just a professional achievement but a deep commitment to improving patient care and the nursing profession as a whole.