Cancer care should not stop when treatment ends, but should continue until the individual no longer needs support. That’s the ethos behind the Transforming Care after Treatment (TCAT) project, which is now up and running in Tweeddale.
It aims to enable people to live as independent a life as possible in their local community, following treatment and recovery from cancer.
The project works with individuals and their families and friends to provide practical, tailored one to one support. It can help people to:
- focus on what is important to their recovery
- build their emotional and physical strength
- re-engage with friends and activities.
Project Coordinator Angela Davidson said: “The project is about what is important to each individual. Many people who are diagnosed with cancer don’t know where to turn for emotional support, financial advice or practical help”.
People are not often aware of what support is available to them locally, having this central point of contact has really helped people who may be feeling more vulnerable to give them a boost and reassure them that help is out there.
“There is a real gap that we are trying to fill,” added Angela. After some people have finished their treatment, they can feel quite isolated. We work to support them and build their confidence to move on. The services available can range from information about local services to practical support.
Once someone contacts the service, an Occupational Therapist will visit to find out what is important to them. One person who had finished their cancer treatment was nervous about going to exercise classes as she didn’t know anyone there and her confidence was low.
We knew that people who attended the classes met for a coffee afterwards and so by suggesting she went along there to meet people first, made the classes seem less daunting.
Another person was very concerned about their ability to live independently as they have the onset of macular degeneration. After an initial visit from the Occupational Therapist and Red Cross Neighbourhood Links Coordinator contact was made with Linburn Centre for the War Blinded.
The Centre Outreach Worker carried out an initial assessment of the client’s home and have arranged for special aids to be fitted which will enable them to live as independent a life as possible within their own home.
In addition, Linburn have arranged transport to and from the Centre on a regular basis which will give them the opportunity to attend various workshops and social activities.
As well as proving beneficial for people affected by cancer, the project has really helped partners to communicate more effectively and share ideas, professionals have been able to see the difference it has made to people’s lives.
There is now a greater awareness that cancer treatment cannot be carried out in isolation of everything else, if we are to make sure everyone with cancer in Scotland gets the support they need.