The time around a cancer diagnosis can be quite overwhelming for patients and those close to them. There is only a limited amount of time which is spent with health professionals and quite often there isn’t the right moment in those appointments to get all of the answers to the questions which may come up.
We set up the Mobile Information Service in response to this. Memorable for its large green bus emblazoned with the Macmillan Cancer Support logo, the service gives anyone who has been affected by cancer a chance to talk to professionals in confidence about any questions or worries they may have about their illness.
It is also an opportunity for people to find out what support is available in their local community and what help they can get from Macmillan, such as our online community, information centres or helpline team.
From medical information and dietary guidance to support around money worries, advice on exercise and help with work problems – the service looks to answer people’s questions as best as it can, and links to local cancer services and support organisations when appropriate.
This April marks the first of five visits to Scotland this year by the Mobile Information Service team – which is made up from nurses, dieticians, radiotherapists, public health experts and cancer specialists as well as support from health professionals based within the local communities it visits.
Macmillan offers a wide range of cancer support services in Scotland, from trained nurses working on our Support Line, through to specialist benefit and financial advisors who can help people who are worried about money.
However, because of its size, there are also a lot of people throughout the country who don’t live close to hospitals or cancer treatment centres and have to travel a long way to access the same support services that others have directly on their doorstep.
By visiting remote, harder to reach areas across the UK the Mobile Information Service provides cancer information and support to anyone who needs it.
Over the past few years, we have noticed the service has been particularly successful in reaching out to men. This is partly because they can find the service spontaneously, with no need for appointments and partly because they can be anonymous if they choose to be.
Because the service doesn’t offer follow up appointments either, there is the chance for people to be totally honest and talk in complete confidence to an independent professional about things they may not be able to say otherwise.
By empowering people to get access to the information and support they may need, we are helping them take ownership of their illness and take back a degree of control in what can otherwise be quite an unsettling time.
And, by reaching out to people and communities which are sometimes overlooked we are helping to make sure that people have equal access to care and support, no matter where they live.
By Amanda Fry
Amanda leads a team of cancer support specialists who work on the Information Service bus and helps them to provide support to people who need it.
She is responsible for the bus visiting Scotland, the Borders and northern England. You can follow her on twitter @macinfobuses
Macmillan Mobile Information Service, Scotland dates
Monday 23rd May: Glenrothes Kingdom Shopping Centre, 10am – 4pm
Tuesday 24th May: Kirkcaldy High Street, 10am – 4pm
Wednesday 25th May: Dunfermline Bridge Street, 10am – 4pm
Thursday 26th May: Falkirk High Street, 10am – 4pm