New help at hand for patients with multiple sclerosis

Two new specialist nurses are providing a vital role in helping people with a life-long condition manage their illness.

MS clinical nurse specialists Stacey Hood and Kevin Taylor.

Kevin Taylor and Stacey Hood have been appointed as Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust’s new multiple sclerosis (MS) clinical nurse specialists.

MS is a condition that affects the brain and spinal cord. In MS, the coating that protects your nerves (myelin) is damaged, and this causes a wide range of symptoms and can affect any part of the body. Each person with the condition is affected differently. The symptoms are unpredictable, with some people’s worsening steadily over time, while for others they come and go.

Kevin and Stacey, who will be working across Grimsby, Scunthorpe and Goole hospitals, will be providing nurse-led clinics and practical support to people with MS, their families and carers.

They provide an essential link between the patients and other health and social care professionals, and take a pivotal role in coordinating services, as well as liaising with the community rehabilitation team.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

• Fatigue, depression and anxiety
• Vision problems
• Numbness and tingling
• Muscle spasms, stiffness and weakness
• Mobility problems
• Pain
• Problems with thinking, learning and planning
• Bladder and/or bowel problems
• Speech and swallowing problems.

Due the nature of the lifelong condition patients can experience relapses where their symptoms get worse, and periods of remission where they improve or disappear.

Kevin said: “The condition can be debilitating leaving patients feeling isolated and depressed. If they are having a relapse it could leave them with an overwhelming sense of exhaustion that even carrying out everyday tasks can be a struggle.

“It is about having a nurse at the end of a phone to offer specialist advice and support. If you are having a particularly bad day, it can be helpful to have someone at the end of a phone who you can talk to.”

Stacey said: “We play a vital role in helping people manage the complex and unpredictable symptoms of MS and the medication they may take for it. Our aim is to help patients live as normal life as possible.”

Kevin and Stacey will be providing the following:

• Support, advice and information for patients who have recently been diagnosed with MS
• Ongoing support for patients and their carers via telephone or direct contact
• Specialist nursing assessment and advice on the management of the condition, working closely with therapy colleagues within the community rehabilitation team
• Education, initiation and ongoing management of treatment and therapies
• Links between community and hospital services.

Kevin is no stranger to the area having worked at Grimsby hospital for 39 years in various posts in medicine. As for Stacey she has relocated to the area from London’s Royal Free Hospital where she worked as a lead matron.

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