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New pilot offers specialist support to cancer patients

Published: 11 Dec 2013

Cancer patients and their carers will receive specialist support closer to home thanks to a scheme that takes care out of hospitals and into the community.

Suffolk Community Healthcare, which is run by Serco, is piloting the service with funding from Macmillan Cancer Support and the East of England Strategic Clinical Network.

They have set up a five-strong team of specialist cancer nurses and support workers to provide cover at surgeries in Deben, Ipswich and West Suffolk.

The team will offer one-to-one support to carers and patients who may be struggling with the effects of cancer after treatment. This can include personalised care, support with managing symptoms and help to become more independent or return to work. The aim is to provide more care in people's own homes, reducing the need for them to go into hospital.
The team can also carry out holistic needs assessments, devise care plans, give advice on lifestyle, help people find wellbeing and survivor clinics, provide information about financial and emotional support and refer to other services.

Gwyneth Tyler, senior Macmillan development manager for East Anglia, said: "Macmillan believes that a cancer patient's individual needs are best met through interactions with a mix of people making up the cancer workforce.

"That could be anybody from a clinical nurse specialist to a physiotherapist, support worker, district nurse or practice nurse. We hope to learn a lot through these pilots about how cancer care could look in the future".

Suffolk is one of seven sites taking part in the pilot, which will be evaluated to demonstrate its sustainability, practicability and cost-effectiveness.
Sadie Gillingham, Macmillan cancer nurse specialist with Suffolk Community Healthcare, said: "I work as part of a team that includes three community cancer nurse specialists and two support workers. We work with patients in their own homes to provide them with a personalised package of care.

"Most of our patients have completed their initial treatment but need help with managing the long and shortterm consequences of their diagnosis and the effects of treatment.
"We see patients regularly for as long as they need us and are always at the end of the phone if they have questions in between visits. Not only does this pilot scheme offer patients the chance to be treated in more comfortable surroundings, but by learning to manage their own symptoms they can often prevent hospital stays and the associated distress these might cause."

Patients aged 18 and over and their carers can use the service if they are registered with a GP taking part in the pilot, and should discuss a referral with a GP or nurse.