Thursday 19th September 2013
Richard Black on how a project in Northern Ireland’s Southern Health and Social Care Trust area is supporting carers of people with cancer.
Macmillan/Newry and Mourne Outreach Service, covering the Southern Health and Social Care Trust area of Northern Ireland, is a collaboration between Newry and Mourne Carers and Macmillan. It came from a pilot focused on providing support for carers of people with cancer and is the first collaboration of its kind in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland has a population of 1.7 million, of which 213,000 class themselves as unpaid carers (including carers of people without cancer). The Southern Trust area is in an isolated, rural part of Northern Ireland and has a population of just under 350,000.
It is estimated there are approximately 40,000 carers within this area.
Range of services
The aim of the scheme is centred on one of Macmillan’s nine outcomes, (statements the charity wants people affected by cancer to be able to say during the cancer journey): ‘Those around me are well supported’.
The services provided by the scheme include advocacy, individual and group support, information and training for carers, respite advice, and links to other services and organisations working in the field of cancer.
Two part-time support workers were appointed in April 2012. Initially, the pilot project was for one year, with the target of supporting eight cancer carers each week. Four levels of intervention were identified, with level one being the simplest, and level four being interventions where carers require ongoing specialist advice and support for complex situations.
The scheme is monitored by a local steering group made up of key stakeholders from Macmillan and Newry and Mourne Carers. It includes Macmillan nurses, a palliative care social worker, a development manager and an information manager from Macmillan, and a Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacist.
In the past year, 79 families have been in contact with the service, with 252 carers being identified. More than 600 contacts have been made with these families and other professionals working with them.
A considerable number of home visits have been made by the support workers, who took the time to address any issues carers had. The support workers can provide advice on carer’s assessments, advocacy to improve packages of care, including respite, support after bereavement, or just a listening ear.
Feedback from carers has included:
- ‘The visits after my husband’s death were worthwhile and much appreciated.’
- ‘We received invaluable, immeasurable practical and emotional support.’
- ‘There was someone with us every step of the way and we will be eternally grateful.’
This service has been extended for a further year to enable the steering group to continue to seek long-term funding and review the effectiveness of the model of delivery. This is a cost-effective service that has provided a lifeline. The care given and service available to people living with cancer in Northern Ireland is exceptional but, very often, carers feel isolated. This service addresses many of their concerns.
Email Richard Black, Macmillan/NMC Project Support Worker, Newry and Mourne Carers.
Other articles about Northern Ireland from this issue of Mac Voice
Empowering carers - A project in Northern Ireland's Southern Health and Social Care Trust area is supporting carers of people with cancer.
Survivorship - How a survivorship programme of work has benefited people across the country.
Urological cancer follow-up - Looking at a new programme supporting men with prostate and testicular cancers.
Bereavement support - Supporting people bereaved by cancer through a partnership with Cruse Bereavement Care.
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