Virtual support sessions for people living with cancer

Like many organisations, the Southport and Formby Cancer Information and Support Centre adapted and innovated in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The centre in Southport is a partnership between Macmillan Cancer Support and NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), it supports people living with and beyond cancer in a range of ways.

Dr Graeme Allan, Macmillan GP and cancer clinical lead at NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: “We know that those shielding from COVID-19 have found lockdown to be a very lonely and scary time, and people living with cancer need help now more than ever.

The Macmillan team (photo taken before the coronavirus outbreak)

“The centre has planned a series of virtual sessions throughout November to help prepare people affected by cancer, their carers, and their family and friends for the transition through their cancer journey.”

The West Lancashire Macmillan Centre and the Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust are supporting the sessions that will cover a range of topics. Some will be delivered by clinical nurse specialists from the hospital, and others will be led by local support services such as Citizens Advice Sefton, Sefton Advocacy and Clinical Psychology. Practical advice will also be on the agenda, including exercise, fatigue, skincare and emotional support. 

The centre usually runs Health and Wellbeing Events three times a year providing health and wellbeing information and advice and signposting local resources and services. As most of us have adapted to staying connected through video calls, it is hoped these new virtual sessions should come naturally to the majority of people.

For those who don’t have the technology to take part in the virtual sessions, the centre is also producing a directory of all the local organisations and services across Southport and Formby and West Lancashire that support people affected by cancer.

Tanya Mulvey, manager at Southport Cancer Information and Support Centre, said: “The centre has recently reopened to provide some face-to-face appointments – with new infection control measures to ensure visitors and staff are protected from COVID.

“We have also increased the number of counselling sessions so we can provide more vital emotional support to people with cancer locally. We will be continually reviewing our services against evolving guidance and hope that we will be able to return to our normal service provision as soon as possible.”

For a full timetable of the Health and Wellbeing sessions or information about how to access support through the centre, call Tanya on 07976 167188 or Julia on 07947 630654, email sfccg.macmillancic@nhs.net or visit www.southportmacmillancentre.org.uk.

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