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Those supporting people affected by cancer will acknowledge that providing information about cancer and its treatment is only part of what is needed. Support may span health and social care, and we need to look at innovative solutions within both the public and voluntary sectors.
The Mustard Tree Macmillan Centre| at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth is developing and enhancing support and information services by working more proactively with people living with and beyond cancer.
We offer a friendly, informal space to talk, ask questions and share concerns. People can make appointments for specialist services, such as benefits advice and counselling, and we run support groups. We also host activities such as relaxation sessions and education and training, and are a beacon site for information prescriptions and Macmillan patient information packs.
Following a successful pilot project and submission of a robust business case in 2009, Macmillan funded a small team to further develop the centre’s services with a focus on survivorship|.
The latest pilot focuses on a fundamental question: ‘How might we work with patients, their families and carers at the right time, in the right place, to make a useful and helpful difference to their health and wellbeing?’ We want to work alongside patients to help them manage their cancer experience.
The information and support that we are currently piloting includes:
- A telephone action line and information database that focuses on solving problems, signposting and providing information.
- One-to-one consultations where we work together with patients, families and their carers to help them make plans, decisions and choices to cope and manage well.
- Comprehensive educational programmes that provide education at every opportunity, interaction and contact.
We are piloting the service with a small patient cohort in preparation for wider roll-out this autumn. This has involved working closely with clinical teams to ensure to the new services meet the needs of their patients and to identify any service gaps.
Patients have given feedback through a short questionnaire and the centre’s user group has also given advice. Currently, the most challenging issues are pacing the service roll-out to ensure we can support demand and integrate into the health and social care community. Additionally, IT systems development and locating equipment fit for purpose is proving interesting.
In the current NHS climate, getting additional staff with the right experience in place has taken time. We will continue to place the patient, their families and carers at the heart of all we do to ensure we never again hear the comment, ‘I wish I had known about these services earlier.’
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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