A team of three new Macmillan support workers have taken up positions alongside three busy cancer teams at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, helping cancer patients to access the help and support that they need.

Based at Basildon Hospital, the Macmillan support workers will contact all lung, breast and urology cancer patients within two weeks of receiving a diagnosis to evaluate their medical, practical and emotional needs.

New funding from Macmillan Cancer Support has boosted the support on offer for people living with cancer in Basildon, Thurrock and the surrounding areas as a New Year in lockdown leaves patients feeling more anxious and uncertain about the future.

Speaking on behalf of the team, which also includes Paula Birch and Casey Ellam, Ada Emerson said: “We’re looking forward to making a positive difference to the lives of cancer patients in Essex, as they grapple with the challenges of life in lockdown and need as much support as they can get.”

By dedicating more resource at an earlier stage to each patient’s all-round care, the Trust hopes to help with issues that might arise as a person’s cancer progresses – such as financial insecurity and declining mental health – that could affect a person’s quality of life.

The support workers will also takes pressure off cancer nurse specialists, supporting the team to provide more emotional support to patients who have been concerned about disruption caused by the pandemic and are anxious about contracting the virus.

By using Holistic Needs Assessments (HNA) to establish fully how cancer is affecting each individual, the team can direct patients to appropriate, local support to help them feel in control of their care and learn how to manage everyday life during treatment and recovery.

Katy Low, Macmillan lead cancer nurse at Basildon Hospital said:

“Many people with cancer remain cut off from loved ones, but our support workers will do their utmost to be a point of contact, give comfort, provide advice and help people to keep looking forward.”

“By putting in the support workers, we’re helping people to anticipate the everyday consequences of a cancer diagnosis that may initially be difficult to foresee, empowering them to understand their needs and access the right support.

“Questions about applying for benefits or accessing emotional support can arise at any point during a person’s cancer experience. Often the financial issues they’re facing, or the pent-up anxiety they’ve been trying to contain, will have grown to a point where it becomes difficult to cope.

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