Specialists in palliative care

Clinical Nurse Specialists

St John’s Clinical Nurse Specialists are health professionals who have completed specialist palliative care courses in subjects such as pain and symptom management and psychological support. They provide care directly to patients and those who care for them. They also support other care professionals providing general palliative care.
Our Specialist Palliative Care Nursing Service consists of Clinical Nurse, Specialists (CNS) covering Morecambe, Heysham, Carnforth, Lancaster and Garstang.

What we do

We provide specialist palliative care. Some patients may have more complex palliative care needs for short or prolonged periods of time. They may require specialist assessment, advice, care and support from professionals who specialise in palliative care – this is given by Clinical Nurse Specialists.

We work alongside your GP, District Nurse or hospital teams, and will work alongside your general care team.

What type of care do Clinical Nurse Specialists provide?

Pain management and symptom management

Such as nausea, vomiting or constipation. This may include recommending changes to your medication, suggesting other treatment options if appropriate or discussing referral to other support services.

Listening and support

So you and those who care for you have the opportunity to discuss problems, feelings and future care plans

Advance Care Planning

Which is helping you and those who care for you to understand what to expect of the future.


You to other services if appropriate, either within St Johns Hospice, or to other organisations who can also help you.

Practical and paperwork support

Such as helping you with paperwork so that you can claim attendance allowance or personal independent payments and a blue badge. We can also help source equipment you may need such as a wheelchair, commode or walking frames.

How do I get referred to the Clinical Nurse Specialist Team?

It is probably because St John’s Clinical Nurse Specialists have expertise in life shortening and life limiting illnesses such as cancer, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Heart Failure, end stage kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, neurological diseases and many others.

“I’m a straightforward person. Yes, I have cancer and I’ve decided not to let it define me. I don’t want to sit in a corner, I want to get on with my life and I still am – it’s just different. People see me for what I am: still smiling and still happy.

I feel lucky as I have Sandy from St John’s Hospice to help me. I met Sandy in February after I was diagnosed with cancer. I wasn’t sure when I heard the ‘hospice’ word as I thought of it as a building where people go to die. I now see St John’s as an amazing place that helps people, and I’m looking forward to going to the Courtyard Café for lunch soon!

To me the Hospice is home because Sandy comes to me at home. I never knew the Hospice came out to see people at home and it’s great that they do – I couldn’t do without St John’s now. Sandy works with other people involved in my care like the GP and it’s so helpful. If I have a problem, say with medication, I just call her and she sorts it, she doesn’t let me down. Sandy has also helped me get ready for the future by supporting me with my advanced care planning so my wishes will be listened to, in fact she’s helped Mum and Dad too.

Sandy encourages me to be myself, to still socialise, which is great as I love to get out. My friend Irene and I put a bit of bling on and go out for lunch together. It’s nice to get dressed up once a week and feel a bit glamorous and special!”

We caught up with Irene who told us, “Michelle is an exceptional woman. I’ve known her for over 30 years and she’s loyal, caring and helpful. When I had my brain injury Michelle was here for me. We’ve been through a lot and its scary sometimes but Michelle is a determined woman facing her illness head on. When we lunch out together we talk nonsense and have a good laugh because positivity and good thoughts are positive healers. We’re ignoring the ‘red lights’ and letting the sun shine on us. Knowing St John’s is there for Michelle means she’s not alone. That means so much for Michelle, me and her family.

Michelle (left)

What is the difference between a St John’s Clinical Nurse Specialist and a Macmillan Nurse?

Essentially it is the same job. The difference is that Macmillan do much of the training, then once qualified Macmillan nurses tend to be employed by the NHS or other charities. In North Lancashire they are employed by us: St John’s Hospice, and in the South Lakes by the NHS. St John’s also trains their own Clinical Nurse Specialists, thanks to the expertise of staff within the Hospice.

How do I access further Information or contact this team?

The Clinical Nurse Specialist Service can be reached Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm, excluding bank holidays on 01524 384887. Outside our service hours you can contact your GP, District Nurse or St John’s Hospice at Home Service on 01524 384887.

Annie Haygarth and Josie Candlin
Joint Heads of Community Hospice Teams