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There is no shortage of evidence documenting the devastating effect that a cancer diagnosis can have on an individual and their family. In recognition of this, one of the key measures of the Welsh Government’s Together for Health - Cancer Delivery Plan for the NHS to 2016| is ‘improving information to patients and families’.
To deliver on these outcomes, Macmillan and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board developed a Macmillan Information and Support Centre at University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. It's the first centre of its kind in south Wales and has been running since April, with an official opening by Welsh Health Minister Lesley Griffiths in November.
The centre is primarily used by patients, relatives and carers, but it also helps staff to provide information to their patients or to meet their own information needs. It recently extended is opening hours from 6am–10pm, seven days a week.
The centre provides visitors with relevant, accurate and timely information and support through:
- free access to cancer information in a range of formats
- time to talk confidentially
- signposting visitors to local services and national and local support groups
- health promotion information
- cancer screening and health awareness
- Relate Cymru| counselling services
- Cruse bereavement| counselling services
- access to financial advice and benefits information through Citizen Advice|.
Around 1,670 people have visited the centre so far and 8,011 Macmillan booklets were taken between April and October.
Feedback has been positive and the following quotes are examples of comments that have been received: ‘I wish they had a place like this seven years ago when my husband was diagnosed with cancer … I could have done with support and information then … but this is a lovely centre very welcoming.’
Another positive comment was from a regular visitor who is a social care professional: ‘The feedback that I have had from my patients is that visiting the Macmillan Information and Support Centre is a very helpful and positive experience.’
From the results of the Macmillan Data Forms, it is clear that the top three enquires are about:
- general cancer information
- emotional issues and relationships
- welfare and benefits advice.
The data has also provided a visitor profile. So far, over 20% of visitors have had ‘advanced metastatic secondaries’ and another 20% of visitors were at an ‘early disease stage of cancer’.
The data also highlights that 24% of visitors did not have cancer, but were visiting the centre for health promotion, screening issues and general enquiries. The information and support provided at the centre is measured as ’outcomes and referral/signposting’ on the data forms. The information for the first quarter is dominated by verbal (26%) and written (24%) books and leaflets. Information was also given out through internet/website use (6%) and visitors were signposted to other services and support (15%). (See graph).
Three Macmillan volunteers have been recruited to support the centre and staff and volunteers can converse with visitors in Welsh, English and Urdu.
We plan to place an electronic information pod outside the centre for all visitors to access. Work is also in progress to evaluate the service through patient stories, with key themes of cancer, carers and information.
Due to the centre’s success, another centre is planned at the University Hospital of Llandough and the Barry Hospital in the Vale of Glamorgan. It is thanks to Macmillan that the centre is a valuable resource to all visitors.
Email Susan Llwelyn|, Macmillan Information and Support Facilitator, Patient Experience, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.
Welsh Government. Together for Health - Cancer Delivery Plan for the NHS up to 2016|. (accessed June 2012).
Welsh Government. Better advice, better health scheme|. 2001–02. (accessed June 2012)
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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