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Launch of Connected Community Care for Cancer service

19th September 2019

Belfast Trust, in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, launched an innovative community service that connects people affected by cancer in the Greater Belfast area to a wide range of services supporting their health and social care needs.

A cancer diagnosis not only impacts on the physical health of any individual patient, but also affects their family relationships, finances and emotional wellbeing. This service, designed by service users and professionals, will ensure every patient in the greater Belfast area is offered personalised support from the moment of diagnosis to help work through any areas of concern. This collaboration between the health and voluntary sectors is crucial to providing holistic patient care.

The Connected Community Care for Cancer Service has received over £500,000 in funding from Macmillan and aims to deliver integrated, person-centred care. It will provide a single point of access for patients to be referred.

After being referred to the service, each person will have a supported conversation with a Macmillan community link worker to assess their wide range of needs. A comprehensive care and support plan will then be developed so these needs can be met. Macmillan will support the person to access high-quality services close to their home.

Around 60,000 people are living with cancer in Northern Ireland, a number projected to increase to 95,000 by 2030. More and more people are living longer with a cancer diagnosis. However, not all of them are living well. A cancer diagnosis can affect all aspects of a person’s life – physical, practical, emotional and financial. It’s important they have access to services that meet their individual needs and support them to live life as fully as they can.

Paula Kealey, Strategic Partnership Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Northern Ireland, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Belfast Trust to develop this new service. Macmillan’s ambition is to ensure that everyone with cancer will have their holistic needs assessed soon after diagnosis and get the support they need.

“A cancer diagnosis can often be devastating. This community-based service will help ensure there is someone there to support you to access the services you need and navigate the system. It’s about empowering people to regain a sense of control over their lives and find their best way through.

“While we know that a broad range of services exist to support people living with cancer, these are not always joined up and can be difficult to navigate. People may not know what is available to them or how to access the help they need on a wide range of issues, such as diet and exercise advice, emotional support, or help with housing, finance and transport issues.”

Ciara McClements, Connected Community Care Citywide Manager for Belfast Trust, added: “I am delighted to see the launch of the Connected Community Care for Cancer service, a vital piece of the puzzle which I feel will help many people. The exceptional team have already had a profound impact on the people they have met and I look forward to seeing how this service continues to grow.”

Patrick Brown, who has used the service, said: “The Connected Community Care service helped me so much. When I ran into difficulties with my housing situation, it was an immense relief to have accessible expert advice and support readily available. Getting a cancer diagnosis is hard enough to take so having this kind of support is invaluable. I don’t know what I would have done without it.”