The Cancer Nurses Society of Australia’s National Congress this year was the perfect place for CarerHelp to showcase its work. The conference was the first face-to-face meeting in two years and was a fabulous opportunity to gauge the knowledge and use of the CarerHelp website by cancer nurses.
For those who are new to this event, the CNSA congress is a three-day educational conference that showcases the experiences of Australia’s nursing leaders. The congress also provides delegates with the chance to exhibit and share business platforms and resources.
This year, we had the opportunity to exhibit CarerHelp. We opted for a stand where we could ‘show and tell’ – where we could talk about the website and show delegates how the site works. We had also prepared a short questionnaire for stand visitors, hoping to gather some information to help with future directions.
We made new friends with those exhibitors around us, including the EviQ team, the girls from Rare Cancers, and my favourite new friend working with the No Ribbon team (see photo)!
We were kept busy, both during the trade hall exhibition times and also during the times when delegates should have been in sessions. We talked and talked about CarerHelp from Thursday until the end of Saturday. We also gathered 90 completed questionnaires.
Through our general chats with people, it became evident early on that the majority of people at the conference had not worked with or even had knowledge of our website. It was disappointing to find this out, but none-the-less, we armed them with sticky note pads, information sheets, business cards, stickers and, of course, beautiful blue, pink and gold chocolate hearts - all of which were sitting on the brightest table cloth in the house.
One of the most memorable, funny and rewarding situations was when I was busy showing a group of nurses a video from our nurse practitioner, Regina Kendall. Little did I know that Regina was also attending the congress. As I was talking to the nurses about her video, along walks Regina to take over my little chat. Nothing but perfect timing – thanks Regina!
So, what did we find out? We found that 16 of the 90 people completing our questionnaire had heard of CarerHelp. However, of those 16, only nine had visited the website and of those only three had referred a family or carer to CarerHelp. Those who had used the website said ‘It’s very valuable’, ‘Love the videos giving practical help’, ‘It’s wonderful’, ‘It’s amazing’ and ‘I have recently discovered it’.
Of the 74 who had no knowledge of our website, the majority were pleased to hear that we hosted videos about carers experiences, health professional videos, fact sheets, templates, carer pathways and of course, the library. People were all interested in the CarerHelp carer kits and were keen to either download them or have a physical kit posted to them. Some planned to introduce the website into palliative care teaching sessions, and some asked us to come and do an in-service education session with their team.
Attending the Congress in this behind-the-scenes way, as part of the expo, was different for me, as I am usually busy being a delegate or giving a paper! However, it was most rewarding knowing that I was able to help spread the word about CarerHelp directly to cancer nurses from around Australia. It gave me confidence knowing that more nurses and family carers will now have knowledge of our website, while at the same time showing us the need to focus more of our promotion on the inpatient settings including allied health workers.
Author: Di Saward, Research Nurse/CarerHelp Project Officer