Supporting Cancer Patients

Last week we were invited to attend a Kings Health Partners’ Integrated Cancer Centre Event at Guy’s Hospital.  The presentations and discussion focussed on supporting cancer patients throughout their whole care pathway and how can we further improve the patient experience?

In the recent National Cancer Survey, GSTT ranked 2nd of the London hospitals.

One of the key issues discussed was how information is given to patients. Feedback from patients can be that they do not feel they always receive the right information about their diagnosis and treatment and the options available to them.  Part of the issue here can be that in fact they are bombarded with so much information that they cannot take it all in. It is therefore essential that throughout the ‘patient pathway’ there is good communication between patients and the healthcare professionals to ensure that clear concise information is always given, patients are asked at every stage of their treatment whether they have the information they need and that patients feel able to ask for clarification of anything they are unsure of.

Jody Warner-Rogers, Lead for mental health, Cancer CAG went onto to discuss the need to patients to feel supported on all levels – practically and emotionally – throughout the patient pathway. “Patients tell us that they care about their experience of care as much as clinical effectiveness and safety. They want to feel informed, supported and listened to so that they can make meaningful decisions and choices about their care. They want to be treated as a person”.

The work of the Psycho-Oncology Support Team (POST) at Dimbleby Cancer Care at St Thomas’s Hospital plays a huge role in supporting cancer patients, their carers and families in this way. Emotional support and psychological care are essential to quality healthcare and treating the ‘person’.  For some people, existing underlying psychological issues can be exacerbated by a cancer diagnosis, similarly these issues can be a direct result and reaction to a diagnosis for someone who has never experienced mental health issues before.

Catherine Dale, Programme Manager for Patient Centred Care, spoke further about the needs of cancer patients and how it is important to focus on people “as people who just happen to have cancer”.  The importance of living as normal a life as possible can directly influence a patient’s ability to deal with what is happening to them.  Again she emphasised the need to inform patients at every step of the way, over and over again about what is happening and why. The overload of information can be so baffling that it is essential to make sure treatments and choices are explained properly and clearly until they are understood.

If you would like further information on the support services offered by Dimbleby Cancer Care at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, please contact the Dimbleby Cancer Care Drop-In Centres on 020 7188 7188 / 5918.