MACMILLAN Cancer Support and Self Help UK have joined forces to improve support for Deaf people living with cancer in Essex.
The Macmillan Deaf Cancer Support Project offers one-on-one emotional and practical support remotely in British Sign Language (BSL) through trained Deaf volunteers. The 2-year pilot will also support carers, including Deaf people who are supporting a hearing person with cancer.
The pandemic highlighted a number of barriers to accessing cancer information and support for the Deaf community in Essex. This included lack of interpreters at some medical appointments and a shortage of cancer information in BSL.
One in three (32%) people with cancer in the UK who are also living with hearing loss or deafness say the pandemic has made it harder for them to access healthcare or treatment in general in recent months. This compares with around one in five (22%) people with cancer who do not have any hearing loss*
When it comes to general sources of support with their cancer, those with hearing loss or deafness are also less likely to have turned to their family or friends (33% compared with 40% of those without hearing loss), a cancer charity (14% compared with 19%) or an online support group (6% compared with 11%)**
The project will also give Deaf people with cancer access to virtual peer support groups and provide advocacy support in complex cases. A website tailored to the needs of Deaf people with cancer will provide information in BSL.
Emma Tingley, Head of Partnerships for Macmillan in London and the South East said: “Being diagnosed with cancer can be a frightening experience and it is unacceptable that Deaf people do not have equal access to vital support. We will do whatever it takes to change this so we can be there for everyone living with cancer. This new partnership with Self Help UK will ensure that anyone facing a cancer diagnosis in the Deaf community can access emotional and practical support when they need it most.”
Simon Calvert is Managing Director of Self Help UK. He said: “It’s fantastic that Macmillan are continuing to fund Self Help UK’s team of Deaf staff and volunteers. It will allow us to further develop this ground-breaking Deaf Cancer Support Project. We are excited to be able to extend this initiative across the UK and to make a real impact on the quality of support provided to the Deaf community.”
The impact and effectiveness of the pilot is being formally evaluated through BSL by the SORD (Social Research with Deaf people) group at the University of Manchester.