A West Yorkshire trust is piloting a new way to help people to live better with and beyond cancer by offering two support co-ordinator posts, funded by the charity Macmillan.
The new initiative aims to ensure that every patient is aware of and able to access a range of support and services available in a bid to help them reach their goals and live as full a life as possible after treatment.
“This pilot programme is so important as it makes the offer of support an integral part of the patient journey and appointment process”
The pilot is being overseen by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance and involves partners, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the Bradford district clinical commissioning groups and Cancer Support Yorkshire, with funding from Macmillan Cancer Support.
Two support co-ordinators, funded by the charity, are now in post and will meet patients face-to-face. Based at Cancer Support Yorkshire’s premises and close to Bradford Royal Infirmary, they will offer personalised health and wellbeing support at a specially-arranged appointment.
From now on, patients will be supported with their personal finances, the ability to maintain social networks and psychological wellbeing, as well as chronic physical problems such as fatigue and pain, as part of the face-to-face appointment, said the trust.
In addition, patients will be able to talk through their personal circumstances with the coordinators, so they can help and support them in returning to work, connecting with their local community, eat well and incorporate exercise into their lives.
“It’s crucial that the NHS recognises that quality of life outcomes are as important to people as survival”
Initially, the scheme will be focused on people who have come to the end of their treatment for head and neck cancer, gynaecological cancer, cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, such as stomach, liver and pancreas, as well as colorectal cancer.
All patients will be supported through the new process via an electronic Health Needs Assessment (eHNA) devised by Macmillan. This will help patients to think about their issues or concerns, as well as possible solutions. They will then be signposted to support services, as appropriate, noted the trust.
The trust also highlighted the importance of support that is well-signposted and tailored to each individual who is a cancer patient, noting that it can make a huge difference to their lives.
Amanda Procter, lead cancer nurse for Bradford Teaching Hospitals, said: “More people than ever are living with and beyond cancer, so it’s crucial that the NHS recognises that quality of life outcomes are as important to people as survival.”
“We already work very closely with Cancer Support Yorkshire in Bradford to provide opportunities for people to access support services and information which can enable them to reach their personal goals after treatment,” she said.
“However, we know that not everyone is currently making the most of those opportunities, or perhaps aren’t even aware that they are there,” noted Ms Procter.
“That’s why this pilot programme is so important as it makes the offer of support an integral part of the patient journey and appointment process, so patients don’t miss out because they have moved on after their treatment has ended and miss the opportunity to improve their quality of life in the future,” she added.
The pilot is part of the innovative national Living With and Beyond Cancer programme, which is being co-ordinated locally by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance. The Alliance aims to improve the lives of everyone affected by cancer across the region.