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Living with and beyond cancer

With an ageing population more people are being diagnosed with cancer and people are surviving a cancer diagnosis due to earlier detection and improved treatments. 

People are now Living With and Beyond Cancer, therefore it is vital that support continues during and after treatment.

The National Initiative to improve outcomes for people Living With and Beyond Cancer has seen the introduction of the Macmillan Recovery Package within the Trust, which is a series of key interventions wthat, when delivered together, can greatly improve outcomes for people living with and beyond cancer.

The NHS 10 Year Plan was recently published (Jan 2019) and it is important for us to recognise that elements of the Recovery Package are some of the milestones for cancer within this.

  • By 2021, every person diagnosed with cancer will have access to personalised care, including a needs assessment, care plan and health and wellbeing information and support.
  • By 2023, patient centred follow-up pathways will be in place for all clinically appropriate cancers.

The Recovery Package was developed by Macmillan to support people so that they feel more in control of their illness and recovery, which positively improves both physical and emotional health outcomes. 

The Recovery Package has four main interventions:

  • Holistic Needs Assessment and Care Planning
  • Treatment Summary
  • Cancer Care Review
  • Health and Wellbeing information 

It will provide a more integrated model of care, through a better coordinated approach between the hospital, the GP and the person with cancer. Click here to watch a video by Macmillan Cancer Support, highlighting the benefits of the Recovery Package.

A Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) uses a recognised assessment tool that allows an individual with a cancer diagnosis to identify their most significant concerns at key points along their cancer pathway.

The HNA is a discussion with a member of the clinical team soon after diagnosis, end of treatment and any other significant point to talk about physical, emotional and social needs. The focus is on the person as a whole – not just their illness. The person with cancer decides how much information they would like to share about their current situation.

People with cancer, as well as those who have completed their main treatment and are cancer-free, often require support in addition to the management of their condition or follow-up. They may also need information about those who can help with issues that can affect them at any given time. Often, patients do not raise issues that are important to them with their doctors or nurses. Such issues might include:

  • difficulties with relationships - these might be connected to the relationships they have with friends, the role they have within their family or intimacy issues they have with their partner
  • symptoms and physical concerns - they may feel anxious about their illness and recovery, or about the changes in their body
  • feelings and emotions - they may feel low or worried
  • money worries - they may want to know more about the financial help available to them

The assessment identifies the individual needs of the person affected by cancer and ensures that care is proactive and support services are planned and accessed appropriately. The assessment can be used to inform the treatment summary.

Benefits of completing an HNA

  • It can help you identify concerns that have been on your mind
  • It isn't just about looking at the symptoms of cancer - it helps your Key Worker understand what is important to you
  • Your Key Worker can refer you on to other services that may be beneficial to you
  • Personalised individual care, tailored to your concerns

HNAs are available within all of the cancer teams to enable people affected by cancer to identify their concerns throughout their journey.

If you would like more information click here.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

Macmillan can offer general advice on eating healthily, keeping active, quitting smoking and maintaining weight loss or gain click here.

Side effects and symptoms

You might experience a range of side effects during and after cancer treatment. Find out how to manage symptoms by clicking here

A Treatment Summary is produced by the hospital at the end of treatment. A Treatment Summary describes the treatment that the person has had, the potential side effects and signs and symptoms of recurrence. It is designed to be shared with the person living with cancer and their GP.

Treatment Summaries encourage a standardised and consistent approach to sharing crucial information between the GP and the person living with cancer. It aims to inform General Practitioners and other primary care professionals of any actions they need to take and who to contact with any questions or concerns.

Benefits of the Treatment Summary

  • Highlights essential treatment information in one document
  • Helps patients to understand their treatment and any potential effects of treatment
  • The document can be shared with other professionals of their treatment, to gain access to services such as travel insurance.

The aim is to give each patient a Treatment Summary at the end of their cancer treatment, giving them the tools to understand their journey.

The Trust have committed to creating an electronic treatment summary, and this is in its first phase to make treatment summaries available to at least those people with Breast, Prostate or colorectal cancer by 2021.

Patient engagement is a focus of health and wellbeing and this part of the Recovery Package is designed to help people affected by cancer and their family and friends get the support they need during and after cancer treatment. It is designed to support self-management.

UHNM is working with local charities to offer free monthly health and wellbeing events. Events are free to attend and open to people living with cancer as well as family and friends to meet others with similar experiences and empower them to take practical actions to support their health and wellbeing.

The events provide information on diet, exercise, emotional and psychological support and managing stress, to help people live well with the wider impact of cancer in their lives. It is hoped that these events will help improve patient access to the support and care they need when recovering from cancer at any stage. For some people it may be months or even years after treatment has finished that they realise they need support and these events are for those people too. Click here for more information.

The Health and Wellbeing events include the opportunity for advice about work or finance, physical activity and local services that offer help and support for people living with a long term condition.

Whilst face-to-face events are on hold this year due to COVID-19 there is a huge amount of information on all the topics covered available through the links below:

For more information to support your health and wellbeing you can phone (01782 676333) or visit our Macmillan Cancer Support services at both Royal Stoke University Hospital and County Hospital.