Your healthcare team
There are many people involved in caring for people living with lung disease. Members of the multidisciplinary team provide different services for patients.
Cardiothoracic (chest) surgeon
Does some diagnostic tests and performs surgery.
Whether this person is a professional carer, family member or a friend their role will be to provide support to the patient from many different perspectives. For example, they could provide psychosocial support or assist with general activities for daily living.
A dietitian can assist patients who are underweight or overweight. The dietitian assesses the patient dietary requirements, and develops a nutritional intervention that will improve lung and respiratory muscle function, improve exercise performance and achieve a healthy weight.
The role of the exercise physiologist is to engage with the patient and increase their capacity to exercise. This involves assessing the functional capacity of the patient, then prescribing and supervising a program of physical activity.
The GP undertakes a key role in coordinating the management and care for patients including:
- Identification of patients at risk
- Examination/Assessment and diagnosis
- Development of care plans
- Referral to other doctors, health professionals and community services
- Ongoing monitoring and review
The Medicare Local in your area may be able to assist in building relationships between pharmacists and other health professionals. Many of these organisations provide inter-professional training opportunities and may have a directory of health service providers. Knowledge of the health service providers in your area will assist in developing relationships and speaking to patients about their health care options.
A doctor who specialises in cancer treatment, they’re responsible for devising your chemotherapy regime and subsequent treatment options such as targeted therapies.
Nuclear medicine physician
A specialist who interprets your PET scan results (see page 10 for PET scans).
Nurses and cancer nurse coordinators
Provide nursing care, information, coordination, support and assistance throughout your treatment.
The general practice nurse helps to streamline care, assisting the GP with patient assessments, developing care plans, collaborating with other health professionals and arranging services. They are often involved in vaccination clinics, and establishing and maintaining disease registers to assist with recall of patients for regular assessments.
Respiratory nurses are registered nurses who have specialist knowledge and skills in medical conditions that affect the lungs and respiratory system. They concentrate on providing care by assisting patients and their families with information, delivering direct medical treatment, supporting the prevention of disease progression, and referral to relevant services.
The occupational therapist assists patients to examine their current daily routine, arrange home modifications and offer advice on how they can gain the optimal level of productivity from the minimal amount of energy expenditure.
Palliative care doctors and nurses
Who work closely with your GP and oncologist to provide supportive and palliative care for symptom management both in the home and hospital.
Examines samples of body tissue or fluids under the microscope to assist with diagnosis and staging lung cancer.
The role of the physiotherapist in the management of lung disease can be delivered on an individual basis or in a group setting through pulmonary rehabilitation. The service provided by the physiotherapist predominantly focuses on developing patient knowledge and skills on airway clearance, breathing control, and exercise (strength, aerobic and endurance).
Therapy from a psychologist can assist those patients who suffer from anxiety and depression. The psychologist may use a number of techniques to assist the patient to self-manage, including psycho-education, cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation strategies, interpersonal therapy and skills training.
A doctor who prescribes and coordinates the course of radiotherapy treatment and advises about side effects.
Specialises in using medical imaging techniques to see inside the body, e.g. CT scans.
A respiratory educator helps educate and counsel patients with respiratory disease and their families. Respiratory educators provide education aimed at supporting people to fully understand their diagnosis, and develop the skills necessary to self-manage their condition.
Respiratory physicians manage patients with lung disease at any stage, but especially those with very complex care needs and in the severe stage of the disease. Assessment by a respiratory physician is necessary for long term oxygen therapy.
Speech pathologists assess current swallowing function, recommend appropriate foods/fluids and strategies to improve swallow safety, start swallow therapy/rehabilitation and identify the need for further investigation.
Tobacco Treatment Specialist
These health professionals engage with patients, using evidence-based methods to help people become smoke free which includes assessing tobacco dependence and using behavioural and pharmacological interventions. To find a Tobacco Treatment Specialist in your area, visit www.aascp.org.au
Other collaborating providers
Other health professionals that may provide services for patients include social workers, aboriginal health workers, audiologists, chiropractors, diabetes educators (if co-existing diabetes), osteopaths, continence advisors and podiatrists.
The video below ‘Who is your healthcare team’ describes why people with lung disease need a team of health professionals looking after them and who these people might be. This video covers the most common types of health professionals and what their role is. The importance of effective communication and feeling comfortable within your healthcare team, seeking a second opinion is also highlighted.