Wednesday 24th June 2015
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Summer 2015
Macmillan counsellors Elaine Heywood and Jacqueline Ullman on health and well-being events
Since 2009, we have been running cancer survivorship events at the Royal Free Hospital, of the type that are now commonly known as health and well-being events. Macmillan funding was granted in 2014, when we moved the events to outside the hospital and expanded the programme to include carers.
Held twice a year, the events are designed to link with other services offered within the cancer centre, including one-to-one counselling, information, benefits advice and complementary therapies.
The events are for people who have finished their active treatment, and have a medium to long-term life expectation. The clinical nurse specialists in the oncology department provide lists of people who would be eligible to attend. On average 18–25 people attend each event.
Speakers cover a range of topics, including relationships, returning to work, coping with body image, dealing with the physical effects of treatment, fear of recurrence, and planning for the future. The realisation and acceptance of having to make changes, however small in one’s life, can be a burden. Most people want to ‘get back to normal’ and helping people to accept the ‘new normal’ is key.
There is an opportunity to add topics if attendees agree to this. Last year we modified the above programme by adding a talk from a physiotherapist on fatigue, a talk from a benefits adviser on going back to work rights and benefits, plus one-to-one sessions as needed.
Carers were also invited and had a separate group to discuss the topics outlined above. The response from carers was: ‘it was good to be heard and have our feelings validated and valued’. They particularly enjoyed being able to talk with other carers.
Through completed feedback forms, we know that the events are evaluated as beneficial by the overwhelming majority of those who attend. They fit well into the current literature, which suggests that coping with the emotional impact of cancer, coping with uncertainty and fear of recurrence, and difficulty in planning for the future are all issues for people with cancer and their friends and family.
The events are an important adjunct to the counselling service, with over 90% of those attending not having used the counselling service before. An average of 14% of people go on to have one-to-one sessions following the seminars.
Our model for these events is adaptable and was successfully used at a neuroendocrine event, which shows it can be incorporated into cancer site-specific days.
1. J Corner, R Wagland. Quality of life of Cancer survivors in England. Department of Health. January 2013.
Elaine Heywood (left) and Jacqueline Ullman
Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
For a range of information and resources about the Recovery Package, visit macmillan.org.uk/recoverypackage