Macmillan invests over half a million on two new services co-designed with cancer patients in Tower Hamlets

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Macmillan Cancer Support, in partnership with Tower Hamlets Council, East London Foundation Trust (ELFT) and Age UK East London (AUKEL) are launching two new services to improve the support cancer patients receive at home and in the community.

The £590,000 investment from Macmillan Cancer Support funds the launch of the Macmillan Cancer Care Navigators and Take Home and Settle Cancer Support Service.
The Macmillan Cancer Care Navigators will focus on helping people living with cancer with very complex health and social care needs who are vulnerable and isolated and are in need of ongoing support to access a range of services from home.

Sandra Docking from Bow was treated for cancer in 2013 and helped design the new services

Sandra Docking from Bow was treated for stage 3 breast cancer in 2013 and has first-hand experience of the problems people can face when they leave hospital after treatment. Sandra is just one of the former cancer patients who helped design the new services and says: “There are lots of services available to help you in your recovery from cancer, cancer support groups and exercise classes for example. When you are in the middle of treatment you try to do everything yourself and you don’t realise that there is help out there or how to find it. That’s where the new Macmillan Cancer Care Navigators will help you to find out and access all these different services. It is particularly useful for the more vulnerable patients.

“The idea of a service like the Take Home and Settle came from one of our focus groups. Many people had been left on their own to cope when they went home. You may have been happy to go home but just worried about how to cope for the first few days particularly if you’re living by yourself.

“If you’ve been in hospital for more than a couple of weeks, it’s hard to adjust to being home. The new Take Home and Settle Cancer Support Service finds out what practical help people need whilst they reconnect with their support network.”

The Take Home and Settle Cancer Support Service is based on a programme already in operation for older and or vulnerable patients provided by Age UK East London. This has been extended to support cancer patients over the age of eighteen, when they return home from hospital (not just the elderly). The service ensures that their home environment is safe, clean and comfortable and they receive practical daily living and emotional support. It’s aimed particularly at those who are worried about how they will cope with the immediate consequences of cancer treatment (surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy), and may have a limited support network of family and friends.

Dr Tania Anastasiadis, a GP Cancer Lead in Tower Hamlets who helped to design the services said: “Many of our cancer patients are dealing with complex social and medical issues. The systems around them are often hard to navigate and multifaceted – these new services will undoubtedly help both patients and teams to deliver better care keeping the patients’ needs at the very centre.”

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs said: “These services were designed in partnership with people like Sandra who are living with cancer in Tower Hamlets, health and social care services, the local community and voluntary sector organisations over the last two years.

“We are pleased to help bring together hospitals, GP surgeries and local community-based services to better support people with cancer in the borough. It aims to address a wide range of needs including the challenges faced by carers, working age patients and those in need of extra emotional and social support.”

Petra Nittel, Deputy Director of East London NHS Foundation Trust’s Community Health Services says:”We are delighted that the Macmillan Cancer Care Navigation Service will be working with charities such as Macmillan Cancer Support, who have provided the initial funding and Age UK East London who have both helped design these services. It is fantastic that residents in Tower Hamlets living with cancer will be supported through this extremely challenging period in their lives.”

People living with cancer in Tower Hamlets can be referred to both services by their GPs, cancer nurses at St Bartholomew’s or the Royal London hospitals (part of Barts Health NHS Trust) or Macmillan Information and Support specialists at these hospitals and other professionals. For more details contact zereen.rahman-jennings@towerhamlets.gov.uk .