5th August 2021
Clare is providing a blueprint for the roll out of Lymphoedema Specialist Clinics across the country with the first service of its kind in primary care being piloted in Ennis.
A new Lymphoedema Specialist Clinic in Clare recently opened to support people living with this progressive, disabling chronic condition. Lymphoedema can severely impact quality of life and lead to complications if not diagnosed early and managed correctly.
The new clinic brings together a nurse, physiotherapist and multi-task attendant to offer lymphoedema assessments, treatment and supported self-care. The clinic will also provide treatment for lipoedema, which requires similar management to lymphoedema.
This first-of-its-kind service is open to people living in Clare and if there is capacity, the criteria will be extended to include North Tipperary. Children and young people with lymphoedema are also able to access the new service. The service is based in an out-patient setting but includes home visits when necessary. The service is taking referrals from consultants, GPs, HSCP and nursing and is linking with the UL Hospital Group for people with lymphoedema diagnosed in hospital. There is a direct referral pathway from the new lymphoedema early detection project in the oncology services. Education is also available for local GPs, primary care teams and acute services to ensure early, appropriate referrals.
Kay Morris, Project Manager Lymphoedema Services, Primary Care Strategy & Planning, said, “People with lympoedema do find it difficult to get service; this is a great addition to our primary care services in Clare and fits into the Sláintecare model. Clare will be a blue print for rolling out and further developing Lympoedema Specialist Clinics across the country. It is exciting to now have a dedicated lymphoedema clinic, it will help the HSE focus on early detection and enable us to provide services for cancer related and non-cancer related lymphoedema.”
The integrated pathways between acute and primary care means that people with lymphoedema and lipoedema are diagnosed early and referred for treatment. This will help limit disease progression and reduce the need for time consuming and costly intense treatment. Although lymphoedema is not curable, it can be successfully managed with an emphasis on education, prevention, early detection and up to date effective standardised treatment. This will lead to improved quality of life for patients and efficiency for the HSE.
Grainne Ryan, Project Lead Implementation of Lymphoedema Services, and Director of Public Health Nursing, Clare, said: “It is a huge responsibility rolling out the first specialist clinic, we are lucky in Clare we have a great team to get this off the ground. Previously we could only go so far with patients and have nowhere to send them, some would have to travel abroad, it is wonderful now we can take referrals and treat people in their own community in Clare.”