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Therapy Services begin work with Young Cancer Patients

Therapy Services begin work with Young Cancer Patients

UCL Hospitals Charitable Foundation is delighted to be working with the Therapies Department at UCLH. We are supporting the development of occupational and physiotherapy services for teenagers and young adults receiving ambulatory treatment at the UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre.

Therapy services do not currently exist for these patients (unless they are admitted onto inpatient wards). However, it is now being recognised that therapy services can offer a range of interventions in order to support patients throughout their treatment pathway - from diagnosis (before treatment begins), during treatment and after treatment has finished.

As the focus shifts from surviving to survivorship with optimal quality of life, the role of therapy services will become ever more important for these young people, hence the development of this project.

On 29th October 2014, therapy services held their first focus group with young people on the 3rd floor of the UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre. Jenny Appleby, physiotherapist, fedback to us with the following information, "It was great to get young people and their parents together to find out more about their current treatment pathways and their experiences of these. This, to us, is essential in establishing a young person centred therapy service. Rather than providing a service that we think they want, we can now aim to establish a service based on what they have told us they need, taking into account their personal input on how this service can be best provided.

Pictured left, the first focus group; from left to right; Daniel David, Molly Berentson O'Donnell, Deborah Berentson, Gemma Lindsell, Jenny Appleby, Kelsey Miller, Tamina Miller.

The focus group was deliberately informal to encourage participation and open discussion around the concept of rehabilitation. This enabled us to gain information around support that has been available, the difficulties encountered and the gaps in the services provided.

Themes that emerged during the sessons included; difficulties returning to school, having to leave work, problems with sleep, the changing roles from parent to 'full time carer' and reduced self-confidence and fatigue. Occupational therapy and physiotherapy have an important role to play in all of these areas.

One overwhelming sentiment voiced was that of relief from the young people and their parents at being treated within the Teenage and Young Adult Unit at the UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre. As one parent commented, 'Coming into this unit was the best thing for us, it lifted a load off my shoulders.'

Creating a service that is young person focused is an absolutely integral objectice, with the overarching aim of the service being to enhance the quality of lives and wellbeing of the young people and their significant others. With the valued partnership and support of UCL Hospitals Charitable Foundation we have future sessions planned and will continue to listen to the voices and opinions of these young people and their significant others."

Funds are currently needed to help support the development of this project by covering the expenses of the focus groups and equipment that the department needs to grow this service. In the future we will be looking to help fund specialist therapy posts to work within this area.