Improving the quality of life for people living with cancer

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Protecting and enhancing quality of life is an important goal for cancer services. People diagnosed with cancer will have both short and long term support needs. Finalists achieved a measurably positive impact on the quality of life for people affected by cancer.


Development of the Hair Loss Support Service
The Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre, St James’s University Hospital

The Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre has been involved in a variety of projects to improve Hair Loss Support Services for cancer patients at Leeds Cancer Centre.

Training of hair loss support staff and a focus group undertaken with the Black Health Initiative led to improved acceptability of the wig service in this community. The centre worked very closely with a local wig supplier to increase the range of wigs on offer under the NHS scheme, resulting in better choice for patients.

An electronic catalogue has been developed specifically for the Hair Loss Support Service at Leeds Cancer Centre, which includes a diverse range of models to improve appeal and acceptance with the wider patient community and different groups. A room in The Cancer Centre has been furnished into a hair salon to allow patients to be seen in a suitably private location, closer to where they receive treatment.

The team has taken part in piloting ‘Great Lengths’ hair loss support workshops with the National Cancer Action Team. The two planned pilot workshops have been such a success that the team is now continuing with this format monthly.


Highly Commended

Rapid referral for patients with malignant spinal cord compression provides consistent, integrated optimal patient care in the South East of Scotland
NHS Lothian

Cancer is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in Scotland. The Scottish Executive has responded to the challenge of cancer through its national strategy, Living and Dying Well and Building on Progress.

In Scotland three regional cancer networks co-ordinate and develop services for people with cancer across the country. The East of Scotland Cancer Network (SCAN) serves a population of approximately 1.4 million across four NHS Board areas.

Malignant spinal cord compression (MSCC) can affect any patient with cancer. It occurs in approximately 5 per cent to 10 per cent of cancer patients and is a major cause of morbidity. Early diagnosis when a patient is still ambulant is crucial, and rapid referral and treatment lead to better outcomes. In addition, improvements in rehabilitation and aftercare improve patient experience and quality of life.

Patients with MSCC will often see a number of different healthcare professionals throughout their journey across SCAN, including in their own home, local hospital, regional cancer centre and hospice. It is paramount that care is consistent, integrated and optimal throughout this time.

The first step to achieving this in the South East of Scotland has been the development of the regionally agreed guidelines developed during the MSCC project with funding from Macmillan Cancer Support, using research evidence, expert opinion and professional consensus. Other aspects of the project focused on changing practice within hospital to reduce delays and improve patient and staff education. 

The SCAN Audit conducted as part of the project has demonstrated real improvements in many of these areas.



Improving quality of life of lung cancer patients through a multi-professional supportive care clinic
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

The Lung Supportive care clinic was developed from a preliminary observational study that identified 79 per cent of lung patients had unmet supportive care needs, and a three-month pilot study demonstrating the multi-factorial symptom presentation of lung cancer patients throughout their cancer trajectory. 

The purpose of the clinic is to provide rapid and direct access to specialist supportive care assessment and management for a range of symptoms lung cancer patients experience at any point along their cancer pathway.

The team comprises Allied Health Professionals (AHP) – an occupational therapist (OT), dietitian and physiotherapist – providing specialised holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) to all new patients within the lung medical oncology clinics at Guy’s and St Thomas Foundation Trust (GSTFT). 

All new patients seen in clinic are holistically assessed by a specialist AHP and referred to the hospital supportive care services or community services, based on need. In addition to the HNA, the dedicated AHPs accept referrals from members of the multi-disciplinary team for patients requiring uni-professional input.

Recent analysis over a year period, between August 2010 and July 2011, showed that 276 new patients presented to the GSTFT lung oncology clinic. Of these, 251 (91 per cent) were reviewed for HNA by the supportive care clinic therapists. Out of 251 patients, 192 (76 per cent) had supportive care needs with many having multiple and a combination of needs that were physical or psychosocial in nature.

Overall the impact of the service is improving patient experience and quality of life, as they are able to better manage their symptoms. Through early assessment and intervention we are able to empower patients to learn strategies and coping mechanisms to self-manage symptoms enhancing a sense of mastery and improving quality of life. 

This service highlights an innovative and effective model that addresses lung cancer patients’ symptoms and quality of life concerns.

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