Dimbleby Cancer Care at Guy’s and St Thomas’ – a review of 2012

The Dimbleby Cancer Care Information and Support Services were established at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London with the support of the Dimbleby Cancer Care charity which was set up after the death of Broadcaster Richard Dimbleby in the late 1960’s.  The development of the service, which provides information and advice, complementary therapies and psychological support to patients and their carers, was pioneered by the work of the charity and continues to be funded in part by the charity today. The service has established itself as a gold standard for cancer care, and is now firmly embedded within the integrated cancer services provided by the NHS at GSTT.

The 2012 Annual Report gives a really clear picture of how the service is helping people living with cancer.

The Information Service had its second busiest year to date in 2012. Over the course of the year the Information Team helped over 3,040 people either dealing with a cancer diagnosis themselves, or that of a loved one. The drop-in centres at Guy’s and St Thomas’ received over twice the number of cases face to face than those who called for advice.

Alongside the drop-in centres, the Benefits Advice clinics held on both sites continue to be much in demand. The current waiting list is essential to ensure that patients access the most appropriate form of help. Patients can be referred to the Macmillan benefits advice helpline with more basic enquiries, allowing the DCC advisor to concentrate on those patients needing specific help regarding more complex claims.

A major project in 2012 has been on the roll out of Information Prescriptions as recommended by the National Cancer Action team and Professor Mike Richards – full information on this service can be found in the March-May 2013 edition of The DCC Times available to download at www.dimblebycancercare.org.

The Complementary Therapy Service continues to provide aromatherapy, massage and reflexology treatments to patients and to carers who access the service by either direct enquiry or by referrals from the oncology or palliative care teams.

The complementary therapists work at both St Thomas’ and Guy’s Hospitals to offer therapies:

  • to inpatients for symptom relief and emotional support
  • To patients attending the Cancer Day Unit to help relieve anxiety and provide supportive care during chemotherapy
  • To outpatients attending the Dimbleby Cancer Care Centre for a series of six appointments

In addition, the complementary therapy team offers a Relaxation and Stress Management programme over a five week period.

The Psycho-Oncology Support Team (POST) also had a very busy 2012 at the Dimbleby Cancer Care Centre not just in terms of their clinical work, but also new training responsibilities. In 2012 the POST team received over 1,000 new referrals of patients and carers needing psychological support.

After the retirement of Margaret Evison – who has now become a member of the Board of Trustees of Dimbleby Cancer Care – Sue Smith was recruited to lead the team and took up the post of consultant clinical health psychologist and clinical coordinator in November 2012.

As well as working with patients themselves, the Psycho-Oncology Support Team support the clinical and staff teams at the cancer centre who are at the forefront of cancer treatment and care through regular supervision and meetings:

  • Clinical nurse specialists in haematology, breast cancer, lung cancer, gynaecology are offered monthly supervision.
  • POST clinicians attend the weekly meetings of the inpatient and community palliative care teams and of the haematol-oncology service.
  • The staff nurses on Blundell Ward, Samaritan Ward and Hedley Atkins Ward are offered support/supervision with the psychological issues raised by their work.
  • Cancer centre physiotherapists and occupational therapists have monthly supervision with the clinical psychologist from POST.
  • The research nurses in the Early Phase Trial Team have supervision with a psychotherapist from POST.
  • Cancer care managers, who offer telephone support to survivors of breast cancer and prostate cancer, are supervised by a POST clinician.
  • The children’s services counsellors at the Evelina Children’s Hospital, who work with bereaved parents, and parents of children who have life-limiting illness, are supervised by POST clinicians.

Treatments available for patients or carers (delivered to individuals, couples or families) include:

  • Cancer counselling
  • Existential psychotherapy
  • Grief therapy
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy
  • Family and systemic therapy
  • Psychosexual & Relationship counselling
  • Cognitive-behaviour therapy
  • Pharmacotherapy for psychiatric disorders
  • Joint working with community mental health teams, or general liaison psychiatry teams for inpatients of KHP
  • Brief intervention for alcohol misuse and dependence

Many aspects of the model of care developed over the last 15 years at Dimbleby Cancer Care will now be more influential across the 17 NHS Trusts in South and West London with creation of the new London Cancer Alliance.

Overall the Dimbleby Cancer Care Information and Support Services performed well in the 2012 Outpatient surveys. When asked the following questions, 100% of respondents answered yes:

Did you have confidence & trust in staff treating you?

Was your dignity & respect maintained by staff treating you? 

Did you get answers to important questions from staff? 

Were you as involved as you wished in decisions about your care? 

Was there enough privacy during your consultation?

Importantly, nearly 100% of people asked said they would recommend the outpatients service to friends and family.  One patient noted “The Dimbleby [Cancer Centre] is well run and I am deeply grateful for the guidance and counselling I received”.

Another wrote, “[the counsellors were] very helpful and helped put things in perspective… helping me work through the trauma of my treatment and condition, giving me more control in my life and helping me to move on and enjoy all that life has to offer with manageable strategies”.

As we move into 2013, with your continued support, Dimbleby Cancer Care will be able to continue to fund and support the cancer care services offered at Guy’s and St Thomas’ as work begins on the state of the art KHP Cancer Care Centre at Guy’s, due to open in 2016.

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