19/10/2020 | Press releases

Extra support for people living with cancer

Patients receiving cancer treatment at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) will be offered extra help and practical support from diagnosis through to discharge thanks to a new cancer care navigator service.

The initiative, which is being jointly funded by the East of England Cancer Alliance and Macmillan Cancer Support, will see four dedicated colleagues based at Colchester Hospital and a further four in Ipswich.

They will contact anyone with a new diagnosis of cancer to provide advice and signposting, as well as referrals to support groups or other services to help them manage the practical, emotional and financial challenges they may face. The navigators will get in touch with patients every three months to offer further advice as their needs change and will also be on hand to answer any questions they may have.

The new service is being overseen by Rachael Scott, strategic lead for Macmillan Cancer Services at ESNEFT.

She said: “This exciting pilot project will make sure cancer patients are given all of the help and support they need from diagnosis right through to discharge, in turn helping to reduce some of the anxiety and stress they may be feeling.

“The navigators will be able to help with everything from signposting people to financial or employment advice to informing them about courses, support groups and complementary therapies which they may find helpful. They will meet all of the patient’s non-medical needs, in turn freeing up clinical staff to focus on care and treatment.

“We will also be working with GPs, charities and other organisations to provide additional support for patients once their treatment has finished and as they transition to life beyond cancer.”

The pilot project will initially run for 12 months, after which the results will be evaluated to measure its success.

Cancer care navigator Sarah Lawrance said: “Volunteering in the John Le Vay Cancer Support and Information Centre at Ipswich Hospital, as I’ve done for the last seven years, you come to appreciate that there really is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to providing cancer support.

“Whatever a person has going on in their life suddenly has to co-exist alongside the daily challenges that a cancer diagnosis can bring. And with the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, these challenges have only multiplied.

“It can be devastating at first, but with regular guidance to address their changing needs and links into local support services, that person can resume an element of control over their life that allows them to live as well as they can with their diagnosis.

“That’s the essence of my new role as a navigator – helping people find the stability and security they need to keep moving forward.”

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