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Signposting Support for Cancer Care in Wales: Help in Surprising Places
Cancer care will affect approximately one in two individuals in social care settings through their lifetime. In this, the last of four articles on cancer care, I consider the need for advice, information and 'signposting' towards community resources and facilities. In addition to specialist input from cancer specialists, such information and signposting will ensure best support in order to meet the individual's wider needs, or 'well-being determinants' (Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act, 2014).
Cancer is always a life-changing diagnosis and will put demands upon the individual emotionally, psychologically, financially and physically. Whilst there can be no substitute for timely specialist care, there is considerable 'added value' in supporting the individual in respect of their wider 'holistic' needs, and this was the subject of my last article. But how can you access this enhanced level of support for our service users?
Part of the difficulty can be that while there are 'generic' community services, and facilities, projects and social enterprises, some with an 'holistic-therapies' orientation which can help support individuals affected by cancer in respect of their wider needs, oftentimes there is no central point of contact, which knows where all these facilities exist. Local knowledge is one thing, but a comprehensive compendium or database including a working knowledge of exactly what is provided and where, is rare.
"Although I'm coping well at home with support, I'm in stage 4 now and go to (local facility) once a week, it’s a great atmosphere and really relaxed. It helps me to cope at home knowing that I can get out and I've got that extra support." Jan – Cancer survivor.
Community based facilities
The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act, 2014 recognises that challenging life circumstances often call for best advice and good signposting towards community based facilities and services which can help people cope and adjust to their circumstances. According to the Care Council for Wales the fundamental principles of the Act are:
- Voice and control – putting the individual and their needs, at the centre of their care, and giving them a voice in, and control over reaching the outcomes that help them achieve well-being
- Prevention and early intervention – increasing preventative services within the community to minimise the escalation of critical need
- Well-being – supporting people to achieve their own well-being and measuring the success of care and support
- Co-production – encouraging individuals to become more involved in the design and delivery of services
Information provision regarding specifics of service availability will be central to making a reality of this legislative intent. The principles of the Act call for information to empower the individual to access services they need. In response, Local Authorities are required to ensure that information to signpost individuals, is available as required.
"There was no dedicated day care or support when I was discharged from hospital because my cancer treatment phase was complete, although I still felt very ill and unable to cope. Eventually I found my way to a lunch project for street homeless and they were really good and told me I could attend as long as I needed to. It made a huge difference to me and helped get me back on my feet after a month or two. The staff there interpreted their brief much more flexibly and saw it as being available to anyone who could benefit." Bob – Cancer survivor.
Sometimes help and support can be available in the least expected of places!
Check out the Care Council's learning hub for the Act here; http://www.ccwales.org.uk/getting-in-on-the-act-hub/