A TEAM of three new Macmillan support workers have taken up positions alongside three busy cancer teams at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, helping cancer patients to access the help and support that they need.
Based at Basildon & Thurrock Hospital, the Macmillan support workers will contact all lung, breast and urology cancer patients within two weeks of receiving their diagnosis to evaluate their medical, practical and emotional needs.
New funding from Macmillan Cancer Support has boosted the support on offer for people living with cancer in Thurrock and the surrounding areas as a new year in lockdown leaves patients feeling more anxious and uncertain about the future.
Speaking on behalf of the team, which also includes Paula Birch and Casey Ellam, Ada Emerson said: “We’re looking forward to making a positive difference to the lives of cancer patients in Thurrock, as they grapple with the challenges of life in lockdown and need as much support as they can get.”
By dedicating more resource at an earlier stage to each patient’s all-round care, the Trust hopes to help with issues that might arise as a person’s cancer progresses – such as financial insecurity and declining mental health – that could affect a person’s quality of life.
The support workers will also takes pressure off cancer nurse specialists, supporting the team to provide more emotional support to patients who have been concerned about disruption caused by the pandemic and are anxious about contracting the virus.
By using Holistic Needs Assessments (HNA) to establish fully how cancer is affecting each individual, the team can direct patients to appropriate, local support to help them feel in control of their care and learn how to manage everyday life during treatment and recovery.
Katy Low, Macmillan lead cancer nurse at Basildon & Thurrock Hospital said: “Many people with cancer remain cut off from loved ones, but our support workers will do their utmost to be a point of contact, give comfort, provide advice and help people to keep looking forward.”
“By putting in the support workers, we’re helping people to anticipate the everyday consequences of a cancer diagnosis that may initially be difficult to foresee, empowering them to understand their needs and access the right support.
“Questions about applying for benefits or accessing emotional support can arise at any point during a person’s cancer experience. Often the financial issues they’re facing, or the pent-up anxiety they’ve been trying to contain, will have grown to a point where it becomes difficult to cope.
Thomas Carter, Macmillan Partnership Manager in Essex said: “We have worked closely with Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust to establish new specialist cancer roles and support the professional development of staff, so they are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to provide the highest level of personalised cancer care.
“Roles like these do not materialise from thin air, but from the generosity of supporters, who together can raise the £32,000 we need to fund a single Macmillan support worker for just one year. This investment in Basildon Hospital is just one example of how Macmillan has been supporting the NHS to tackle the unique challenges posed by Covid-19.”